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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Working It Out

Craig Smith - Working It Out


Craig Smith - Working It Out
TOPICS: Boundless

Welcome to Mission Hills. So glad to have you with us today. We’re in the midst of our Boundless Series where we’re going to the Book of Philippians in order to discover the secret to living bigger than our circumstances because I think we probably all have some circumstances that aren’t exactly what we were looking for. Let’s just take a quick little survey. How many of us would say that every single circumstance that you’re in right now, every situation is pretty much exactly what you were hoping for? Everything is perfect and you’re just, like, “I hope nothing ever changes.” Anybody? Anybody? No. Okay. So here’s the thing. We all face these circumstances. They’re not really what we’re looking for. Like, as we were kind of writing out the agenda of our lives that wasn’t on the agenda, right? And yet the Apostle Paul says in the Book of Philippians that our circumstances aren’t really the lid on our peace, our prosperity, our contentment, all those things. Our circumstances aren’t the lid on us that we often tend to think they are.

In fact, he says that he’s learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, which basically boils down to not looking for contentment in any situation, but that’s easier said than done. And so throughout the Book of Philippians, we encounter these principles that allow us to begin to kind of do a kind of a contentment transplant to take it out of the realm of our circumstances and into other things that can’t be stolen from us. Last week, Reza walked us through a great teaching on the importance of humility when it comes to contentment and how important humility is in the Christian life. Today we’re gonna talk about the power of humility, which I know might seem like an odd word to attach to the word humility because we don’t tend to think about humility and power going together, right?

You know, humble people, we tend to think in our culture, humble people are invisible people because they don’t toot their own horn, right? They don’t kind of insist on being out in the limelight. And so humble people are invisible people and invisible people of course, are powerless people. So power and humility don’t seem to go together and yet we don’t even need to go to God’s Word to correct that misunderstanding. It’s false and even the world is demonstrated that. I’ve been rereading a book this past week called ”Good to Great.” It’s a business book came out several years ago. Basically, the premise of the book was that it was a team of researchers and they took the Fortune 500 companies and they analyze them and they were looking for a couple of standouts. They were looking for companies that had average returns. They were kind of tracking with the market and everything was going fine and then they jumped from good to great. They had at least three times the average earnings of the market average. So they went to three times better basically than all the other companies. And then they said, “We’re only interested in companies that stayed at that great level for at least 15 years.” So it couldn’t be a flash in the pan, it couldn’t be some small thing. It was a big change. And they stayed there.

And we wanna know what those companies did that are different than all the other companies. And they found several things. But the most interesting to me was they found that all of those good to great companies, they all had a certain kind of leader. And in the book they call them a level five leader. And as they describe what a level five leader was, there was one word that came up over and over and over again. You wanna guess what that word was? It was humble. They found that these leaders of these standout companies, they were all humble. They didn’t insist on attention. They didn’t look for accolades. They took all the influence they had and they used it to make the company better. And so even the world has sort of recognized that humility and power are not, they’re not in conflict with each other. People can be humble and have tremendous influence. Well, I mean, let me just throw out a couple of names. Just tell me if you’ve heard these names with your hand. Gandhi? Anybody? Buddha? Abraham Lincoln? Rosa Parks? Bill and Melinda Gates? These are all very powerful people, people who had huge influence in the world and yet they’re all people who are known for their humility.

Bill and Melinda Gates blow up the internet. Bill blew up the internet just this year because somebody tweeted a picture of him just standing in line with a bunch of people at Dick’s Burgers in Seattle waiting for a burger just like everybody else, which is crazy when you think about it. Because he could have bought Dick’s Burgers and it would have affected his bottom line the same amount of buying an actual burger would have our bottom lines, right? And yet there he was just hanging with everybody else, no special treatment, not looking for anything else. And a bunch of people who knew him responded to the tweet and said, ”Yeah, that’s just who he is. He’s just a humble guy.” And yet he’s clearly a very powerful guy.

And so even the world knows that there is a power in humility, that humility and power are not enemies of one another. And yet we still seem to have this idea that humility makes us invisible and invisible means that we’re powerless, but that’s not the case at all. And it’s caused me to ask an interesting question. When I start to ponder why it is that God talks so much about humility, here’s what I’ve been asking myself this week. What if the reason God wants us to be humble is because it actually makes us more powerful, actually, makes us more able to make a difference? So in fact, here’s the question. What if humility is the key to greater influence? What if we’ve got it backwards? What if humility doesn’t reduce our influence? What if it increase it? What if humility is the key to greater influence?

Why don’t you go ahead and grab your Bible. Make your way to Philippians 2:12. We’re gonna talk today about the power of humility, the power that humility gives us to actually make a difference in the world. In Philippians 2:12 says this, it says, ”Therefore, my dear friends…” He’s been talking about humility up to this point as we saw last week. He says, ”With all that humility stuff in mind, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, not only when I was there, but now much more in my absence.” He’s in jail in Rome, far from them. He says, ”I want you to do this. I want you to continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Now, that phrase, work out your salvation, has caused way more confusion than is necessary. Because what Paul’s saying there actually is very, very simple. All Paul is saying is this. He’s saying, “Live out your salvation.” He’s saying, “Live out your salvation.” He’s saying, “You are saved now live in light of your salvation.” He’s not saying, “Work your way to salvation.” That’s not his point at all. He’s not saying, “You gotta work off your salvation,” like we bought salvation on an installment plan. Like, I was like, “Well, you haven’t been good enough to be saved, but I’ll go ahead and save you, but I expect you to get good enough and pay me back.” That’s not what he’s saying. It’s not working off our salvation. He’s saying live it out. I mean, think about it this way. I’m married. Okay? I’m married because I convinced Coletta to say, “Yes.” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Yes.” I caught it on videotapes. You can’t get out of it. We’re married. It’s a done deal, right?

Now, because I’m married, there are certain things I do and there are some things that I don’t do. For instance, I wear a wedding ring, okay? This is not what makes me married, but it’s one of the ways that I live out the fact that I am married, right? I don’t do things, like, I don’t entertain attraction to other women. I don’t do the second looks. I don’t go looking for an opportunity to, in my own heart and mind, to entertain attraction to anybody else. That’s something I don’t do because I’m married, but it’s not what makes me married. It’s the way that I live out my marriage, right? If you think about it, doing those things doesn’t necessarily make you married. Like, if you’re single and you’re thinking about, you know, “I’d love to have someone. I’d love to have a spouse,” so you’re go, “Well, Craig said it’s about a ring and it’s about,” you know, “not everything.” So that if you go home, you’ll get a ring and pop it on there and then you’re, like, “Okay, I’m not gonna entertain attraction to anybody else. All right, that’s what I’m gonna do. Where’s my spouse?” Kind of expecting them to magically appear. You’re gonna be severely disappointed. It doesn’t work that way, okay? Even in the age of internet dating, it’s not that simple. It just doesn’t work that way. That’s not what makes me married. It’s the way I worked out my marriage, the way I live out my marriage.

That’s what Paul’s getting at here, okay? He says, live out your salvation. And he says, live out your salvation with fear and trembling, which is kind of an interesting phrase because on the surface it really sounds like he’s saying, live out your salvation with terror, that God will come and get you if you don’t. Maybe with terror that you’ll lose it if you don’t, or with terror what God could do to punish me if I don’t. And it sounds like that, but that’s really not what Paul’s getting at at all. In fact, as Paul uses that phrase with fear and trembling in the Bible, he typically means by it, kind of like it’s like Bible slang for in awe. “In awe,” he says. Who are we supposed to be in awe of? Well, look what he says next. He says, for it is God who works in you.” “It is God who works in you to will and to act in to fulfill his good purpose.” What he basically says is that we’re to live out our salvation with awe that it is God working in us. In other words, our awe of God is to motivate us, to move us, to energize us, to live out the truth of our salvation.

He says, “You should be in awe that it is God who is working in you and through you,” because it’s a pretty astounding truth if you stop and think about it. You understand the God that we’re talking about, right? How about the God who flung a 100 billion galaxies with a 100 billion stars in each one of them across an expanse of heaven so vast we can’t even begin to wrap our heads around the outside edge of it. That God is who we’re talking about, the God who holds every electron and every quark that makes up the electrons and all the subatomic particles together to make the atoms to make the… All that holds together in him according to the Scripture that his conscious thought is what maintains even the smallest building blocks of this incredibly vast universe. That God, he says. That God is working in you. That God is the one who brought salvation into your life. That God is the one who is working in you to cause you to will and to act. It’s an incredible truth, right? He’s transforming us from the inside out so that we begin to want what he wants and then he empowers us to act so that we can accomplish his purposes in the world which is crazy. He says, we’re supposed to will and to act, to accomplish, to fulfill his purposes in the world. This is the God who flung the stars across the skies. And yet when he looks at earth, he goes, “There’s something I want done there. I’m gonna use you.”

He says he’s gonna use me. He’s gonna use each one of us to accomplish what he is actually doing in the world. This is that God and he wants to use me. That’s crazy. That’s insane. I don’t even understand. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would you choose to do that? And the answer is ultimately because he loves us and he enjoys allowing us to partner with him in his work in the world. It’s an incredible truth. And that’s what Paul says. He says, “Live out your salvation, you have it.” “Live out your salvation with awe that it is God working in and through you.” That’s what motivates. It’s not terror, but in awe that, that God wants to work in me and that God wants to work through me, that God allows me, as we sit here at Mission Hills to be on mission with him in the world. Wow. That’s amazing. And here’s the Good News.

The Good News is that that God is the one doing the work. He’s the one transforming us from the inside out. We don’t have to do it by our effort. We just have to allow that work to be done. It’s that God who is providing the strategy. It’s that God who’s showing us through his Word what it looks like to be on mission with him. It’s that God who’s figured it out. It’s that God who empowers us to be able to accomplish what we could never accomplish. God’s doing all that. All we have to do is cooperate with it. That’s the Good News But there is some bad news. Are you surprised? No. Whenever a preacher says there’s good news, there’s always a bad news coming, right? The Good News is God’s doing all this.

Here’s the bad news. To cooperate with everything God’s doing in us, we have to give up one of our favorite things ever. What he says, verse 14, ”Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” “Oh, come on. Really? That’s what I have to do to cooperate with what God wants to do in and through me? I have to give up grumbling and arguing.” That’s hard, isn’t it? Because that’s one of our favorite things ever. Can we just be honest with each other? I’ll be honest with you. That’s one of my favorite things ever. I love when things are not working out the way I planned, I love being able to play the martyr and go, “Okay. Well, I’ll do it, but I just want you to know I’m not really happy about it.” That’s not just me, right? Can we be honest? How many of us, if we’re really honest with each other, find some comfort, find a little tiny bit of pleasure in grumbling and arguing? Can we just be honest with each other, Church?

God says, we gotta give that up. He’s gonna do the work in us and through us. He’s gonna let us be part of an amazing… And if that is that God is willing to do that in us and through us, but we have to give up grumbling and arguing along the way. Grumbling is not all that complicated, right? We get it. Grumbling is when you just sort of let somebody know that you’re not happy with the way that things are playing out. It’s not a say a loud thing. In fact, a lot of translations translate it as murmuring. It’s kind of a low down, you know, “I’m not gonna tell her, I’m not gonna broadcast it. I just, there’s a few key people I want to know that I am not really happy with the way this is playing out. I’ll work it, but I just want you to know…”

That was grumbling and arguing. Arguing is a little bit of it’s a little more complicated word. Depending on where it’s used in Scripture and the context, it sometimes gets different kinds of translations. It’s always a negative word, but sometimes you see the word arguing and you’re like, well, we’re supposed to kind of, sometimes we’re supposed to debate things, right? To make sure we get to the right decision. I mean, as a leader in an organization, I’m a big believer in debate so that we can get to the best decision. In fact, I have some meetings that I tell people, “If we don’t have anything to debate today, we’re not gonna meet.” So I’m all about debating, but that’s not what Paul’s talking about here. This is a different kind of arguing. That word that is being used here in Matthew 15:19 it’s the word Jesus used to say, ”For out of the heart come evil thoughts.” Same word.

Evil in the sense they’re divisive, that they lack unity, that they get in between God’s people and they separate them so that we’re not standing shoulder to shoulder and advancing his mission anymore. He says, evil thoughts are… In Luke 9: 46 of my favorite statements in all Scripture says ”That an argument,” same word. ”An argument started among the disciples as to which one of them would be the greatest.” I love that. Can you imagine what that argument was like? I’m sure it was a very humble argument, right? I’m sure they were going “John, I’ve been thinking and I’m pretty sure it’s you” And John’s going, “No, no, no, no, Peter, I’m sure it’s gonna be you.” That’s not the argument, right? No, it’s a self-centered, like, “I’ve got an agenda, I’m advancing my agenda and here’s what it looks like. It’s gonna be me because you’re an idiot.” “How am I an idiot?” “Oh my gosh, that parable when you thought the answer was four? It wasn’t even a math question, right? Like you don’t get Jesus. I get Jesus. You don’t get….” That’s the argument, right? It’s put myself forward. It’s advanced myself. It’s get my agenda on the table and everybody else following along behind it. That’s the kind of thing that Paul’s talking about here.

Interestingly enough, both of these words grumbling and arguing that they’re probably meant to remind us of a particular story in the Old Testament where we see this thing happening a lot. It’s a story that you might know, maybe you don’t. It’s the story of the Israelites. At a certain point in their history, the Nation of Israel found themselves enslaved in Egypt. And when they were in Egypt interestingly enough that they were there because of God’s provision for them. They’d been living in the Middle East and then a famine broke out and God orchestrated things and he took them to Egypt to save them. But after a while they began to grumble because the leadership had changed and they weren’t respected anymore. And eventually, they were operating out of a position of slavery, which is a bad thing, but they kind of forgot what God had done for them. They forgot how it is they ended up in that place and they began to grumble against God. They began to argue with the situation. Like, maybe they’re questioning his goodness and “Why would he ever do…” They kind of forgotten what he’d done. They’re focusing on what he hadn’t done yet, right?

And then God in his grace and mercy, he sent Moses and Moses came. And through Moses, he did these miracles. And Pharaoh of Egypt said, “Just take them and go.” And so they went and they ran and they were so… Wer’e free. This is amazing.” And then they got to the edge of the Red Sea and they looked back and Pharaoh’s armies were coming and they began to grumble and complain and argue. And then they said, this is one of my all-time favorite statements in Scripture. They were standing on the edge of the Red Sea and they said to Moses, “Hey, I’m just curious, were there not enough graves back in Egypt? You brought us out here to die cause it’d be better, like, land space for us to be buried in. Is that the deal? Like, we’re gonna die. What’s your problem? What’s God’s up to?” And they’re grumbling and they’re arguing with the wisdom of God in this. And then Moses stretches out his staff over the sea and it parts. And they’re like, “That’s new. Interesting.” And they run across the sea and then they get to the other side and they go, “God, that’s amazing. Oh, Pharaoh’s Army’s coming. God, what’s your problem?” They’re grumbling and they’re arguing with God’s wisdom. And then the sea crashes in and destroys Pharaoh’s army. And they’re, like, “Wow. That was really cool. And, huh? Anybody notice we’re in a desert? Yeah, this…God led us to a desert. God, there’s no water here. What’s your problem, God?” And they’re grumbling and they’re arguing. And so Moses strikes a rock and water comes pouring out of the rock. And they’re, like, “That’s great, but there is no food.” And so food falls out of the sky, right? In response to their grumbling and their complaints food falls out of the sky. Every day manna falls from heaven. And after a few days they’re, like, “Yeah, but it’s the same food every day. There’s not a lot of variety in this.” And they’re grumbling and they’re arguing. And so God sends meat and on and on. We see the cycle repeated over and over and over again. God moves. God does incredible things, but they don’t pay attention to what God has done. They pay more attention to what God hasn’t done yet. And it causes them to grumble and to complain and to argue. These words come up over and over again, and so as Paul uses these, I think he intends us to remember the story from history. And he says, “You’ve gotta stop it. If you wanna cooperate with what God wants to do in you and through you, you’ve gotta stop grumbling and arguing.”

His agenda is better than yours. His agenda is more good than yours. It will be more good for you than yours, but you’re grumbling and you’re arguing because it’s not your agenda. It’s not what you were looking for. It’s not what you were hoping for. It’s not the assignment you wanted. He says. Do everything without grumbling and complaining.” How do we do that? Very simply. We focus on what God has done instead of what he hasn’t done yet. That’s how we do it. We pay attention to what God has done more than we pay attention to what he hasn’t done yet. There’s nothing wrong with asking God to do something, but it should be born out of a heart that is filled with the trust, that this is a God who has acted on our behalf time after time after time. He can be trusted. He is not absent. He is not absent-minded and he’s good.

Says, “Live out your salvation with awe, that it is God at work in you,” changing you from the inside out so that you can accomplish his purposes in the world. All you have to do is cooperate. And all you have to do to cooperate do everything, in whatever situation you find yourself in, whether it’s circumstance, you find yourself, do whatever God calls you to do without grumbling or arguing. Focus on what God has done, not on what he hasn’t done yet. He says, ”Do this” verse 15 ”So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and a crooked generation.” Because that’s what’s at stake. That’s the finish line. That’s what’s gonna happen. That if you can actually, if you can put God’s agenda first, stop worrying about your agenda, stop grumbling and arguing and complaining when things don’t work out the way you want it to. What’s gonna happen is you’re gonna be transformed until you are blameless and pure. You stand out from a crooked and a warped generation. And I think that’s so, so interesting because we don’t really pay attention to this progression. We don’t pay attention to what Paul’s saying here. We fixiated on it. He says, we’ll be blameless and pure, and in our minds naturally to be blameless and pure means to be uncontaminated, right? It means that we don’t have sexual immorality in our lives, that we don’t have, you know, gossiping tongues, that we’re not filled with envy and jealousy. You know ,that we’re not contaminated by the sinful stuff. That’s what we think when we hear the words blameless and pure, blameless and pure.

But do you notice what he says here? He says, “You’re blameless and pure when you’re not grumbling and complaining.” Grumbling and complaining is what gets used to being blameless and pure. You’re like, “Well, how does not grumbling and complaining, how does that keep me uncontaminated?” And the answer is it doesn’t. He’s not talking here about uncontamination. He’s talking about cooperation. He’s talking about our ability to cooperate with God and what he’s doing in the world. And he says, when you’re grumbling and arguing, you can’t cooperate with what God’s doing. You’re not following his agenda, and therefore you’re not blameless and pure. And that’s such an intimidating thought. I don’t know if it is for you, but it is for me because I realize in my own life, it’s really easy for me to get fixated on whether or not I have personal purity, right? And I go, well, yeah, I don’t have sexual immorality in my life. I’m not entertaining attraction to other women. So I’m not doing that whole lust thing Jesus is talking about. I’m not gossiping. I’m not doing all these things. And it gets the checkboxes, right? I’m doing the right things and I’m avoiding the wrong things. There we go. That’s what I’m doing. I’m pure. That’s it, right? I just need to be personally pure, right?

And yet what Paul says here is no, that’s important. Yeah. I mean, God speaks a lot about being pure, but that’s not what he’s talking about here. What he’s talking about here is our ability to put God’s agenda above our own. That’s what it means to be blameless and pure in this context. Blameless and pure people put God’s agenda first, and that’s why they’re not grumbling and complaining because they’re like, “Yeah, this isn’t what I signed up for. This isn’t what I was hoping for. This isn’t what I was expecting, but it doesn’t matter. This is where God has me and I’m okay with that. I just need to figure out what God wants me to do in this. I’m okay.” They’re putting God’s agenda first, and that he says is what it means in this context to be blameless and pure.

Whew. That’s hard truth, isn’t it? Because it means that you can have all kinds of personal purity and God’s not all that excited about us. Not if we’re not pursuing his agenda above our own. Yeah. I find in the Church a lot of times I find in my own life how easy it is to go, yeah, I’m checking off the boxes of personal purity. I’m not contaminated, but I’m not cooperating with God. Honestly. I’m pursuing my own agenda. These are my plans, and it’s not sinful. It’s not wrong. It’s just not God’s. And what Paul tells us here is that God’s concerned about our personal agenda as much as our personal purity. That’s the second side to the equation of following Jesus that we often miss, right? We say here at Mission Hills all the time, we’re here to help people become like Jesus. A lot of that’s personal purity, but also to join Jesus on mission. That’s following God’s agenda in the world, extending his influence into the world. Well, we’re told that if we’re not getting both sides of that equation right, we’re not nearly as blameless and stand out as we would like to be. God’s concerned about our personal agenda as much as he is about our personal purity.

He says there’s a lot riding on this. He says, “And then,” meaning when you put God’s agenda first, when you begin to look at your circumstances and go, “Yah, this isn’t what I had planned, but it’s what God had planned and that’s okay. God, what do you want me to do here? What opportunity is there to serve you? What is the opportunity to become like you and to be on mission with you?” Then he says, “You will shine among them,” them being the warped and the crooked generation. “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” The word of life is the Gospel And when he talks about holding firmly to the Gospel, he’s not meaning like hold tight to it like a shield that guards us against the things that come against us. No. No. It’s hold it tight as a banner that we carry out with us into the world. We carry the word of life, we carry the Gospel out into the world. We carry the light of the Gospel into darkness. This is God’s purpose.

Remember he said, “Live out your salvation with awe that it is God working in you and through you to fulfill his good purpose,” which is what the Gospel advance into the world. That’s what he’s calling us to be part of. That’s his agenda. And sometimes that agenda is at odds with ours, isn’t it? Oh no, no, maybe not saying that we were living in sin necessarily. You know, it’s not, again, that we’re contaminated by sin, but we’re still pursuing our own plans. We’re still pursuing our own agenda. “It’s my career,” and “I’m looking for this relationship,” and “I’m looking for a family that looks like this.” And there’s maybe nothing wrong with any of that, but sometimes that agenda kind of gets out front of his. And what’s supposed to be out front is God’s agenda that we advance into the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But he says, when we have the humility to put God’s agenda above our own, we begin to shine. We begin to shine among them. We draw attention, we draw notice. By the way, when he talks about shining like stars in the sky, he’s almost certainly quoting from Daniel 12:3 that says this. It says, ”Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” Paul most certainly has that in mind. He says, what does stars do? They lead people, right? Even in the ancient world, you found a star and you put your bow of your ship on that and night after night it led you to where you were trying to go. That’s what stars do. He says, those who lead many to righteousness, many to our relationship with God through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we do that, he says, we shine like stars in the heavens.

You know, we began asking this question about humility. Is it possible that humility is actually the key to greater influence? And here we see why. This is the power of humility is that humility isn’t about not ever being noticed. Humility is about not needing to be noticed. Humility is about being able to take any attention that’s drawn to us and point it to somebody that is really worthy of it, to Jesus of Nazareth, to the Son of God who lived the perfect life and died for our sins and rose again three days later. Humility doesn’t say, “I’m never noticed.” It says, “I never need to be noticed and if I am, notice I’m gonna take any attention that’s drawn to me and I’m going to put it back on Jesus.” And the interesting thing is that makes us shine.

Humility gives us the power to shine and to lead people out of darkness. That’s the power of humility. Is what Paul is looking for in his life. He says, ”And then, when you live this way, I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” He says, ”I’ll be able to be proud of the fact when I stand before Jesus, that my teaching among you, my leadership among you, it wasn’t wasted. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on a sacrifice and the service coming from your faith, even if I suffer.” And he’s in jail, he’s suffering. He wanted to go to Rome as a preacher. He’s there as a prisoner. It’s not the plan. It’s not the agenda, but he went, “I’s not about my agenda. God’s agenda goes first, and even though I’m suffering”, he says, “I am glad and I rejoice with all of you, and so you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” Please don’t miss that. He says, “Hey, if you shine and the attention is drawn to you, gets put back to Jesus in that way, you’re advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Wait if you do that, it doesn’t really matter that this wasn’t the plan for me. It doesn’t really matter that this wasn’t the agenda that I was working off of. It doesn’t matter that these weren’t the circumstances I was hoping for. I’m good. No, no, no. I’m better than good. I rejoice.”

See you can only do that if God’s agenda is first, right? If his agenda is what drives Paul more than anything else. This was one of those secrets to contentment that we’re beginning to find along the way. It says this, it says that contentment comes from having the humility to put God’s agenda first. Because when God’s agenda is first, any circumstances that feel like obstacles become opportunities either for God to transform us or for us to be light in the darkness, leading other people out of it. And when that’s happening and when God’s agenda is first we go, “It doesn’t really matter what the circumstances are. I’m good.” Sometimes that catches us by surprise. Maybe you’ve had that experience. It’s not always the case for me, but every now and then I find myself in a difficult situation and I catch myself accidentally doing it right. I’m in a difficult circumstance like this. “I didn’t want this, but then I go, but you know what? I can see God’s doing this and it gives me an opportunity to do this. Yeah. I’m okay with this.” I’m like, “Oh, I did it right. It’s snuck up behind me. I’m okay with it. I’m good with… Yeah, I’m content.”

But listen to me, church, that only happens when we have the humility to put God’s agenda first. And that’s what Paul’s saying here. How do we do that? How do we put God’s agenda first? We can talk a lot about that, but let me just give you three practical things from this particular passage. The first one is just this. We can put God’s agenda first. We can cultivate the humility that allows us to do that by cultivating awe, cultivating awe. He says, “Live out your salvation with awe that it is that God who is working in you and through you.” We need to cultivate that awe because when we are in awe of God, we are not in awe of our own agendas. So we have to cultivate an awe. What the problem is that is amazing as God is, as awesome as God is, we can begin to take that for granted and we lose the awe, right?

I mean it’s same when I moved here in 1996, I was in awe of those mountains, right? I’d look to the West and I’d see those mountains and like I was a bad driver for about four months because I was always distracted because I was looking, I was just in awe of them. And then you of move to the stage where it’s not so much awe, it’s more like, “Aw, yeah, it looks pretty,” right? And then it got to the point where you hardly even notice them and somebody comes and visits and like. that’s crazy. Like, you can see that on your drive to work?” And you’re, like, “Oh yeah. Huh. Forgot those were there.” See the same thing happens in our relationship with God.

The flinger of the stars loves you so much he sent his Son to die for you. He rose from the dead and he offers us salvation. Not by working our way to it or working it off afterwards, but just by faith. Just by trusting in him, having a relationship with him. That God did that for you, but we can lose it. We can lose that sense of awe. And with it, the humility to put our agenda below his. So we have to cultivate awe. How do we do that? Well, a couple of practical things.

Number one, do what the Israelites didn’t do. Focus on what God has done instead of what he hasn’t done yet. And I mean literally go home, get a piece of paper out and write down all the things that you can think of that God has done for you. Keep that piece of paper nearby and add to it every time you think of something else he’s done for you or something new that he does do for you becomes clear. Write it down and keep that list accessible because the more that we see what God has done, the less impressed and bothered we are by the things that he hasn’t done yet. And then we remembered that, that God did that and that and that and that and that and that and that. And then in all of that, and that’s wow. And it cultivates awe.

The other thing we can do is we can cultivate all through worship. They’re coming regular together as God’s people. And worshiping God. Music moves us. It’s one of the reasons that God calls us to sing songs and hymns and spiritual psalms to him because there’s something in the power of music that he has he built that actually creates it as a little bit of a sense of awe. So come regularly to worship or go regularly to worship in some other church. We’re not trying to grow Mission Hills, but go to a Bible teaching church and a church that worships God in Spirit and in truth because that cultivates an awe in us. Take the next step in worship so you know, maybe the next time that a worship song happens, you can move away from this to this and from this, maybe to this. Maybe can get a little lopsided.

And they’re silly things, but sometimes it’s that step of faith, that we go, “Let me step outside of my comfort zone because I don’t wanna get too comfortable with God,” right? That’s the purpose of stepping outside our comfort zones because we don’t wanna get so comfort with God that we’re no longer moved by awe that God is working in and through us so we cultivate awe.

Second thing we do is we check our agendas. Check your agenda, because our agendas tend to slip in front of God without us recognizing that it’s happening. And again, it’s not necessarily that our agenda sinful or wrong, it’s just that it’s not God’s. And what we can tell when that’s happening, by the way, as Paul tells us here, by those increasingly strong temptations to grumble and argue and to complain. This is not how I would’ve done it. This is not what I would’ve preferred. I don’t think this is the way we should be doing. I think it should look like this and this.” That temptation to grumble and complain, that’s the red flag that says, “Hey, here’s an agenda that’s gotten a little ahead of the leader of the pack. It’s got a little out front of God. Check your agenda.” Hardest thing about that is your agenda might not be sinful, but God’s not interested in just not sinful. He’s got bigger plans for you, and so we gotta put our agendas underneath his. Check your agenda.

Third thing is this advanced into dark places. Shine. The power of humility is it gives us the power to shine, to lead people out of darkness. So, go into dark places. You want global experience and so you heard about the opportunity to go to Kenya next year. Maybe God’s leading you to do that. You should head out after service or you should check us out online and get signed up for an informational meeting. Consider doing something like that or one of our other many many trips that are coming next year. Because there are dark places all around the world and you could be light in them. But also understand that there’s darkness in your own home, in relationships, in your families. Maybe you need to be the light who speaks into that? There’s darkness in the houses across the street from us. Maybe you need to be light in that dark place. There’s darkness in our schools at the end of the streets. Maybe God’s calling you to step into a darkness there and to be light there. There’s darkness all around us, but you are light. If only you’ll have the humility to put God’s agenda above your own. And if you do, then God’s gonna use you. He’s gonna use you to change things. That’s why we’re here. Because God’s working to help us become like him, but also to join him on mission in the world. Let’s have the humility to put his agenda first. Let’s pray.

God, thank you. As the people of God, we give you thanks for your goodness and your mercy and your grace. You’ve forgiven us for all the grumbling and the complaining and we confess we’ve done a fair amount of it. We confess beyond that. Lord, we kinda like it. There’s something really satisfying in it, and yet it’s a red flag that in fact what’s happening is our agenda has gotten in front of yours. And so we ask for your forgiveness. Ask for the power by your Holy Spirit to put your agenda first.


Speaking of that agenda, if you’re a follower of Jesus, would you just continue in an attitude of prayer? Would you just keep praying? I’m gonna ask you to pray for the people around you, the people watching online who don’t know God in a personal way, who don’t have a relationship with him. And if that’s you, just wanna speak to you for a moment. Because maybe today for the first time that you’ve heard, maybe in a way that connects for whatever reason, that that God is great, that God is awesome, that God is worthy of our awe. And yet he loves you and he knows your name and he’s not put off by the wrong that you’ve done and the sin that you’ve committed. In fact, even though our sin separates us from him, God loves you so much that he sent his own Son Jesus, to pay the price for your sin. He raised him from the dead three days later and he’s offering you forgiveness and adoption into his family. He’s offering to come into your life.

That God is offering to come into your life, to have a relationship with you that begins now and goes on forever. He’s offering to transform you and to make you a world changer. Give you an opportunity to be on mission with him. That’s what God wants with you. And if you don’t have that relationship, you can, you can begin that journey with God. And if you don’t have a relationship with God, if you don’t have the salvation we’ve been talking about today, you can have it right here, right now. Here’s how you do it. Wherever you are, just have this conversation with God:

God, I am sorry. I’ve done wrong. I’ve pursued my own agenda. Haven’t really cared about yours. I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sin. I believe you rose from the dead. And so I know that you’re telling the truth, that you really are offering me forgiveness. You’re offering me freedom. You’re offering me salvation. And that all I need to do is say yes to a relationship with you. So Jesus, I’m saying, yes, I’m putting my faith in you, putting my trust in you. Come into my life. Start your work in me. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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