Levi Lusko - Not My Idea of a Good Time
Well, welcome to the first in a series of messages in this new collection. Thank you next. If you have a Bible, Romans chapter 8 is where we're going to be, and we're going to be taking some of the favorite verses in scripture. Some of those that for many of us, if we went around, would be like, this is my favorite verse in the whole Bible, and we're going to be looking at and exploring the fuller picture, so we're not just grabbing them out of context. Because if we're not careful when it comes to the scripture, what we can end up doing is turning some of these amazing verses like Romans 8:28, which is where we're going today. Anybody would say like that's my favorite verse in the Bible? Any Romans 8? No, wow, tough crowd. OK, there we go.
We got we got one here, but I'm sure for many of us, this is like the stuff that's like my favorite verse in the Bible type of territories, where we're going to be exploring. But if we're not careful, we can end up frustrated if we don't look at the fuller context, like we saw as we were preparing for the series. Because if I want to make a coffee, which would be the promise of this machine. If I'm in a hotel and I see this machine or if I'm staying at an Airbnb and I walk out in the morning and see this, this is the promise of a day starting right. All God's people say, right? This is the way a day begins. This is why we get out of bed in the morning, right? Alarm clock goes off, get thee behind me devil, but then you remember, if I get out of bed, I have the promise of a coffee, but this doesn't just work automatically. There's a process to how it works. I can't just take the promise of coffee and experience some little bit of heaven in my cup if I don't figure out exactly what the process is.
So the promise is followed by a process, and the process doesn't work properly if I take a teabag and shove it inside, right? I'm not going to experience it, because I'm not doing it, right? Furthermore, I have to plug the machine in nothing is going to happen if I don't have power. So I have to plug it in and get the tea bag out, because God knows the devil drinks tea, but Christians drink coffee. No amen to that? I just offended all the tea drinkers, including my wife. So we got to measure out how much water we want. There's a whole process to how this actually works. We can't have the promise if we don't figure out the plan and if we're not tapped into power, OK? So we get our water sorted out, get the tea bag out of there, get our K-cup. Trademark. I don't want to get sued, all right? So acknowledging the lawsuit that is impending. This is not a sponsored video, and I actually think Keurig coffee is pretty disgusting, but hot take. Hot take.
But here's the thing about me. I don't even care if it's a bad coffee. I'll get a bad coffee on the way to a better coffee, right? I pretty much will chain smoke coffee all day long. So good coffee, bad coffee, yeah, I would love a great coffee, but until then, I just want a coffee. And that's how I think. So the point is, and I want to lay the foundation for where we're going in the series. We don't take a promise without figuring out the steps involved in the plan and without tapping in to power, and so that's why we don't just read Romans 8:28, which says, "And we know". You know this verse. "And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are the called according to his purpose". That's an amazing promise, but we don't just grab that verse like it's a magic bullet or a lucky charm or a rabbit's foot keychain and just hope it's better because of that. That's like thinking that we're enjoying coffee. To be clear, we are not enjoying coffee yet. We have to figure out the process of the plan and make sure that we are tapped into the power, all right?
So let's not jump in at 28. Let's get some context before, some context after, and try and figure it out in a message that I'm calling, "Not My Idea of a Good Time". Not my idea of a good time. It says, starting in verse 26 of Romans 8, "Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses". Check this out. "For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings, which cannot be uttered. Now, he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because he makes intercession for the Saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he for new he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he predestined, these he also called. Whom he called, these he also justified, and whom he justified, these he also glorified".
So Father, we take the time to absorb this powerful promise, and we do so mindful of the power supply and aware of the bigger overarching plan. We pray it would become even more beautiful in our minds and hearts, and my prayer is that over your people today, there would be a settled peace that you are up to something and that your plans are better than ours. We ask this believing for salvation, believing for revival, believing for you to spark new joy in our souls today and to breathe new life into our imaginations. Asking this in Jesus' name. We pray together saying, Amen.
Not my idea of a good time. It's funny how highly developed our sense of what a good time is and isn't. Jennie and I were eating some tacos the other day, I told you we were Christians, so we like Mexican food, with some good friends of ours. You heard Annika preach last week and pastor Earl, pastor Onyeka McClelland. They lead a church in Shoreline in Dallas, Texas called Shoreline City. They're incredible people, and they've become dear friends to us, and we heard an amazing message from Annika on Mother's Day. So good on Mary and doing what you can and God using that. So powerful, and I've heard from so many different people how it just spoke exactly what they needed in that moment. But we were sitting at the table with them, and I said, you've got to come back, first of all, because it's Montana is not always so cold. They said, this is really cold. It was April you know when they first were coming or May, rather. It didn't matter it all felt like February this spring, didn't it? But I said, it's not always so cold.
You got you got to come back, and they said, well, what do we do? I said, well, you've got to come back and go camping. I just picked it out of like one of 100 things you could do, and he just he blanched at that point. I saw him wretch a little bit. Just camping. Like I had just said like we'll worship the devil and sacrifice an animal to Lucifer, you know? Camping. He gave me this look, and I'm like, oh, not a big fan? He goes, not my idea of a good time. And he said, so sell me on it. Sell me on it, Levi. Now, I have a little bit of a reputation amongst my friends for strong arming and persuading them into the things that I'm excited about. I'm sorry, once an evangelist, always an evangelist, all right? But I said, no, camping is amazing.
Now, again, if I pick back on it, it's personally nostalgic for me. I grew up in Colorado, and that whole like, you can take the boy out of Colorado but you can't take Colorado out of the boy. So even when we left the state and moved on, it still like had this mythical property, and people like from Colorado meet each other and this is almost like this nod. The Montana thing's even deeper than that, I've discovered, but in Colorado, there's a sense of like yes, I love the mountains, and it's just like a whole ethos and mythology that goes along with it. And so I said, when I was a little kid, we would go camping a couple of times a year. It wasn't a ton, and honestly, quite a few of them my dad forgot the tent poles, so it wasn't like we were good at camping. But it always retained this like this is the height of a good time to the extent that I have so many memories of my dad putting me to bed, and he would pull the covers over our heads in the bed and say, we're going camping in Colorado. We'd make the camping out of our blankets, and it was like I was like life does not get better than this right here, ladies and gentlemen.
So I got married and I thought this was an exciting thing. I pulled the covers over Jennie's head and said we're camping in Colorado and she's like, you're a weirdo. Please stop. But it's just this, to me, it's charming, I love being on nature, it's just campfire and s'mores, the whole thing. So I'm describing all of this to Earl, and he said, none of that sounds good to me in the slightest. Like everything about what you just described is horrible. That is not how I have a good time. And he's like the bugs and it's all so terrible and you're dirty and you don't shower. And I'm like, yes, it's wonderful, isn't it? And I said, well, what's your idea of a good time he's like room service first of all and a mint on my pillow and a robe. A robe that I can put on. And I'm like, actually, that does sound lovely. It all sounds good too, but I just I thought about it this week, because we can both look at the same exact thing, the two human beings and have completely different ideas about what is good.
And so I think that's maybe the danger of a Romans 8:28, where God tells us, hey, no matter what you face in this life, and let me just tell you something, this promise is powerful. Romans 8:28 is undeniably a powerful promise. In fact, one pastor he led in London for a long time until he went to heaven named John Stott. He said that Romans 8:28 is a pillow that God's weary believers have laid their heads on throughout all of church history. I mean, it's just unbelievable, and it's true. And if you need that pillow, it's there for you. It is a wonderful promise. The thought that all things work together for good for those who love God and the call according to His purpose. But the problem with that promise is whose idea of good are we going by? Because Earl looks at camping and says a way to get murdered by a demon insect. I'm looking at it and going, this is wonderful. And someone thinks about going to a crowded mall and shopping and they get a panic attack and other people say that's like that is my idea of a good time. A little bit of retail therapy.
So whose idea of good are we going by? Well, let's stop and get our bearings for just a moment. We're in the book of Romans. The book of Romans is basically Paul the apostle who wrote the majority of the New Testament, 13 out of 27 books. It's his Magna Carta. It's his magnum opus. It is his Beethoven's Fifth. This is his Mona Lisa, right? This is his putting the gospel distilling the truth of what it means to know God, how to be saved, what we can understand about the good news of following Jesus, all into one concise package. It's been said that in every movement of revival that has happened in the Christian church, it has somehow been connected with the teachings set forth in the book of Romans, all right? So if we're looking at a topographical map of scripture, Romans becomes essentially the Himalayas, all right? Everything is massive there.
Now, that's true, but here's what's even cooler about it. We're not just in the book of Romans when we come to 8:28. We're in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, which again, if the Bible is a topographical map and the Book of Romans is the Himalayas, that makes Romans 8 Mount Everest. It is the highest point in the highest place for understanding and connecting with how we are to relate to God. Romans 8 is so unbelievably powerful, it has been considered by theologian after theologian to be the single greatest chapter in the entire Bible. Donald Gray Barnhouse said that if you were to drop your Bible on the ground, it should automatically open up to Romans 8, because so much of your time has been spent reading it that your Bible, if knocked into, it would automatically just open up to Romans 8.
Y'all, this is a chapter that opens up with there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ and ends with there is no separation from those who are in Christ. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and it's all by grace. Romans is all about what Grace does. It's all about how we can't earn anything. Romans is what tells us that our standing before God in our own nature is that of children of wrath. For all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is the book of Romans that tells us how we can be saved by grace through faith. It is the gift of God, lest any of us should be able to boast. Romans is unbelievable, and Romans 8 is the high point, it's the crescendo, it's the climax. It's when the fireworks are bursting and the song is heard. This is unbelievable stuff here. Someone said that if the Holy scripture was a ring, then Romans would be the stone set in the ring, and chapter 8 would be the sparkling point on the jewel.
And I think out of all of that, there is nothing that is so encouraged us as we follow Jesus in this relationship by grace where there is no condemnation and where there is no separation from Jesus. The promise of all promises that encourages us as we follow Him is to hold on to, like a life preserver, that no matter what comes our way in this life, God's going to work it for good. Does that encourage anybody on a Sunday morning? But again, what do we mean by good? So what do we need? We need a definition. All the points in my outline today are going to be like my report cards in school. All D's today. Definition is the first D word that we're going to get. The definition. The definition of good, because it is highly subjective, and we are highly selfish. The notion of good, and I think that there's going to be some, and you probably have experienced it to some degree some disappointment and disillusionment if we face hardship.
Now, that's a pretty open ended term. What is hardship? Suffering, betrayal, injustice, pain, abandonment. It's a very broad subject when we talk about difficulty and hardship. But if I'm real, my own greatest frustration isn't even just what comes my way from others, but it's what happens in my own self. And Paul is no stranger to that. In fact, as we move into Romans 8, we're coming, of course, out of Romans 7, a chapter where he experienced and wrestled with and grappled with the idea of how much disappointment there was in his own ability to follow God. And he said in Romans 7:19, "For the good". How many of you can relate to this? "For the good that I will to do, I do not do. But the evil that I don't want to do, that I practice".
How many of us year after year have that New Year's resolution come and go, come and go, but we still end up in those same traps? And of course, the greater context of him saying that is to say that there is no life in your standing before God being based on what you do, but on what Jesus does. But there still is oftentimes a frustration that comes because we feel like, I end up not doing good things and my life is not good. And if we're real, we will face things, and we're Watching God work supposedly, and what he's doing in it, we're like, hey, that might be you working all things together for good, but this is not my idea of a good time. It's not the life that I wanted. This is not the life that I ordered. This is not the life that I prayed for. Is there any honest person that today would at times say, I believe that God's working things together for good, but I sure don't see it. And what I do see, that's not my idea of a good time.
So what do we need to do? We need to make sure we're working off of God's definition of good and not ours. For those who are called according to His purpose, His plan. Are we shoving teabags into the coffee machine and are we tapped into the power supply that makes it all run? So what is the definition of good? Well, he gives it very explicitly in Romans 8:29. "Predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son". Basically, what that means is he defines good. The highest good for your life would be that you would become more like Jesus. So the good isn't just that life is more comfortable or that life is more cozy or that you get everything you want or that you think you need. The whole point of this passage is you don't actually know what you need. We don't know what to pray for as we ought. If God gave you everything you thought you needed, your life would be a mess.
Remember, Bruce Almighty, where he's answering prayers, he's saying yes everything. It did not go very well. It's like getting the Midas touch. Everything I turn to gold is good. Now, I can't eat anything. So the point is us at a place realizing, I actually don't know what I need to become what I myself want to become. I don't know what's good. I don't know what's best, and as an illustration of that, in the news this week was the fact that there have been a million overdose deaths now since they started keeping track. That's a huge number. And what is an overdose death? This is in many cases someone looking for a good time, and certainly, by any definition, we will come up with not finding it, what they're looking for. I think a lot of times when I've read interviews from people who, especially heroin overdose, they're looking for a sense of home. They're looking for a sense of connectedness, they're looking for a sense of warmth, and oftentimes chasing the initial high but not finding it.
So we don't know what good really is. And God tells us, I have an idea for you. It's becoming like my Son. Conformed to the image of the Son, and what does it take for us to become like His Son? A lot of times, that good thing that God has for us actually takes and requires bad things coming our way. Joni Erickson Tada put it this way, and this is a powerful statement. I want you to absorb, write it down. Take a picture of it, because this is dense theology in one sentence that you could get a master's degree just here in this sentence. "God will permit what He hates to accomplish that which He loves". Let that sink in our God will permit that which He hates in order to accomplish that which he loves.
This was what was spoken to Joni when she, at the age of 18 in a diving accident, broke her neck jumping into water which she did not know there was a submerged log and ended up as a quadriplegic at the tender age of 18, and now looking forward at an entire life on this earth barring a miracle which has not at this moment come that many people prayed for including herself. I'm going to be in this wheelchair unable to move from the neck down for the rest of my life, and someone spoke that sentence to her. And she said for all of these years, it has been that which which she has hung on to. God will at times allow that which he hates, because he hates suffering, and that's so beautiful, because it gives us space to recognize and realize God gives not cause evil. God will use bad to do his good, He does not cause the bad. But He is so good that He is seeing the end that we would want if we would knew if we knew what he knows. That He won't allow that what she hates to accomplish that which He loves, and she has herself said it is the greatest thing that ever happened to her, because in that circumstance, she found God, she found salvation.
She said, and I quote, "I would rather be in this wheelchair knowing God than on my two feet not knowing him". She taught herself to paint with her teeth, she has written, she has spoked around the world, and she has taught so many people how to find beauty in a life of suffering. So the definition of good is not a pain free, comfortable life that you can control. If that's our working definition of good, then we're going to be very disappointed when life shows up in a messy way. When life shows up in a painful way, when life shows up in a brutal way. If we sort of glibly just, Romans 8:28, bro, like we're Ned Flanders, or something. God's got good in store. Don't you worry. We're just going to find it any moment now, right? I broke down on the side of the road, but when I got out, there was a $20 bill in the gutter. Praise the Lord.
Hey, look, that can happen, but I'm telling you that that is far too small of a definition of good. And if we back it up and we see the scope of he's wanting and he has predestined and had this vision for your life that you would become like Jesus. More like the greatest person who has ever lived, and that in your life, the gospel would find new expression. That in your life, Christ would be able to live through you. Christ who humbled himself and therefore God has exalted, and that you could become like that in an increasing degree, which is the point of walking with Jesus. That we might be conformed to the image of the Son, not to earn his approval but because we have it. The definition then of good is the hard things that come our way pushing us further along in that journey, and that makes you powerful.
That's Paul in a prison cell telling the church at Philippi, Philippians 1:19, "I know that this, this, my incarceration will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of Jesus Christ". He's saying freedom's going to be the result of it. I'm going to become increasingly free through this situation, but not just me, God is going to bless the church at Philippi, God's going to save people in the jail, and Paul's going to become more free because he's going to become more like Jesus in this difficulty. This is James 1 verse 3, "Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience". Bad things coming your way, but you get to become more patient on the back end of it. This is Romans chapter 5 verses 3 and 4. We glory in tribulations, why? Because tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character, hope.
Do you feel yourself experiencing bad things, but the good isn't just become comfortable again, you become cozy again, it's you become more like Christ, you become safer to trust with true riches. You become more wise. You become more full of faith. You become more like Jesus. So if your definition is becoming more like God and you have room and space for the difficult and the brutal and the messy ingredients, then when you experience them, it doesn't keep you back from goodness, it gets you there faster. That's the definition. But then secondly, notice the details of God working bad things for good. The details. For you'll notice he says, "And we know that all things work together". So it's no single bad thing that becomes the good. It's the bad things working cooperatively. Cooperatively.
In the text, the word together is a Greek word that has a word that you've probably used before, especially like in leadership and in business circles, it's guaranteed a word that comes up. The word together means is the Greek word synergia. Synergia from which we get our English word synergy. The definition of synergy is multiple different things working together to accomplish what none of them could do by themselves, and oftentimes, because of chemical reactions, and also just the essence of teamwork, things being opened up and unlocked that are very different from what each of the individual things could do. That's the church, by the way. That's synergy. That's two or more coming together. That's all of us taking our place. That's all of us doing the part. That's all of us being the body. I'm telling you, if we work together in unity, there is nowhere we can't go. There is nothing we can't do. Synergy.
And that's what he said. He said, and we know that all things work in synergy for good for those who love God and those who are the called according to His purpose. A great illustration of this would be salt. Salt is made up of two things that come together to create a different thing. Salt is just two ingredients right table salt is sodium and it's chloride. But put them together in the right way, what do you have? Table salt. What's interesting is that both sodium, the element, and chloride, the element, are poisonous and toxic and dangerous by themselves. But together, they synergize into something that's productive and helpful, and I just love that because it just shows us the different bad things that we face, the different hard things that we face, we balk at them being used for good because they are bad, and they are.
I look at my life. I think when I'm very young, my parents divorce, I look at my life I see a key figure in my spiritual development taking his own life. I look and I see hardship, I see difficulty, and I'm like bad, bad, toxic, sodium, chloride, but I'm telling you, God says, I'm working them together. I'm working them together, why? Because I want you to be the salt of the Earth. And God will take the toxic and God will take the difficulty. And you know what? When I'm talking to a young person who's facing their parents' divorce, I have a greater empathy. I have seen God work that together, because there's been a healing that's taken place, and now there's a power that's been unlocked. And I dare you to believe that the toxic and the difficult and the painful. Those things that individually, it's just I see nothing redemptive about any of those things. But when you start to trust God and you start to walk with God and you've been saved by grace and you begin to do this life walking with him, you just watch him work that in here, and work in this. And he begins to work all things, all things.
And the Greek means all things together, because I know you got something. He can't use that, he can use that. He will redeem that, he will take that, he will begin to work all things in a way that unlocks something that could not have been done by any of those individual things, but he chose as the ultimate chemist to release the reaction that could be done. He hated the things individually, but he allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves. But it's the details of these things cooperating together. And then thirdly, the definition, the details, we need to realize that we're being developed. There's a development that must be factored in.
Again, I don't just get to walk up and get my Keurig again and get my cup there and push the button and expect a coffee, because every time, and it already shut off. Every time I turn it on, it's got to go through the process of heating that water up again, and so there's never been a longer three minutes in your life then waiting for that first cup of coffee in the morning. Oh, geez. Four minutes is a French press. How long you wait for a French press. Every day, four minutes. Alexa, set a timer for 4 minutes, and I always think to myself every time, I don't know if I'm going to make it. I literally don't know how I'm going to make it through this four minutes, but if you're patient, the lights still flashing, I'm still waiting and waiting.
And I think sometimes we look on paper, and this has happened. And I get it. I believe God could use that, and I know I was molested, and I realized there was this, and there is an abortion in my story and there was abandonment back here. And I look at all those things and I'm waiting for that chemical reaction to take place, and you're like, I'm still salty, but not the right way, and I don't know if I see the good, but that's because we're being developed. And we serve the God of sowing and reaping and we do so with an Amazon Prime mentality. Actually, I'll double down on that. How weird is it that we are actually living in a time when Amazon overnight Prime feels archaic? That's the moment we're living in culturally. There's Amazon Now, there's Instacart. You can have it in 30 minutes. You don't have to do anything. And you can track it all the way there. It's actually quite enjoyable, isn't it?
This is Fred. Fred is, well, look turn right. Oh, Fred, you went the long way, and you're watching Fred bring everything you wanted right to your front doorstep. What's next? You think it and it's already there. Jeff Bezos knew you were thinking about that. It's like, ah, that's very convenient and disturbing, but to think about having that level of convenience as a consumer but then opening up the pages of a book where the Bible says God's timing is not our timing. To the Lord of day is as 1,000 years and 1,000 years as a day. So what do we need to remember? We need to remember we are being developed. It already turned off again. This is never going to go right. Every time I've preached this, it's somehow come out differently. This machine is not cooperating. Oh, look at it go. Wow. The anticipation.
I feel all of us collectively salivating. It's like very Pavlovian here what's happening. No, you're just going to play me that way? What did I ever do to you? I don't know what's happening. All right, well, we'll just leave it be. But here's the point. The point is you are in development. And so what God allows in one season might not be redeemed or be fully visible in its full format until long after the actual event, long after the prayer was prayed. Long after even in some cases, your life is over. What a wonderful thought to think that God measures time in a different way than we do and that our pain we face in one season can actually be overturned many generations since. I would encourage you to pray bigger prayers and to think bigger thoughts than even just limiting God to what he's doing in your lifetime and the way that God can overturn generational sin long held in a family line. And you should be praying for your grandchildren and praying for your great grandchildren.
And the problem with looking at life just in terms of what we're experiencing here is that we serve the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And he, look at my coffee's coming out. Oh, you thought that was an accident. No, I didn't know when it was coming and neither do you, but the Bible says, listen to this. "God has made everything beautiful in its time," and that's beautiful. Come on. Let's thank God for coffee, because it's a gift. Beautiful in its time. So Joseph's sold by his brothers into slavery, and he's in a pit. He did nothing wrong. Good or bad? Bad. But Joseph's helpful and he helps out around the prison, and so eventually, he gets promoted, and then he gets forgotten about. Good or bad? Bad. Joseph is working for Potiphar. Potiphar's wife hits on him. Joseph says, no, because I want to honor God, even though God is not seemingly honored Joseph. And what happens? She lies about him, and he ends up in a more difficult situation. Good or bad? Bad.
But by the end of Joseph's life, Genesis chapter 50 verse 20, he's able to speak to every single thing that happened and say, you meant this for bad. You meant this for evil, but God meant it for good. But it was in its time. It wasn't like the instant the hard thing happened it was redeemed. It was years and years of waiting. It was years and years of Joseph being developed.
We see the same thing in David's life. David is just taking care of the sheep. He's just happy to do a good job there, and the prophet comes and says, you're going to be a king one day and David says, fine, but I got to take care of these sheep. No, you need to be the King. So he gets anointed. And what happens? The actual King gets super jealous and super twitchy and spends the next 20 years trying to kill David. And David is like, I didn't ask for this job. I didn't want this job, so why would you tell me to be King when you didn't intend for me to actually become King for several decades, and in the meantime, I would have to go through all this hate, all this vitriol. The answer is David was being developed. And had he become King instantly, he would have ended up just as evil and wicked as Saul did. He needed the time of chafing, the time of being developed so that he could become a King after God's own heart, and that's why at times in your life God will allow hard situations.
God will allow difficult situations to see how you handle them, because like Joseph, there's going to come a day when you'll be trusted with more. And Joseph was honorable when a woman who was hitting on him, that no one would ever have known about. That's what she said. No one will know. No one is in the house. My husband will never find out, but God wanted Joseph to be at a place where when he was, by the way, second in command of the King of Egypt, he could have done anything he wanted to with women. Could have done anything he wanted to, and he would have had the power. He was safe to trust with all that because he was faithful way back here.
Listen to me, young people. What you're doing now with pornography, what you're doing now with your girlfriend and secret, it has everything to do with what God wants you to be as a man of God one day. Think about when you're a grandfather. Think about the story you want. Think about the legacy you want. Think about the good man that you want to be. You don't want to have your family fighting over who has to give the eulogy because no one wants the difficult job of trying to find something nice to say about you at your service. There should be a line to the microphone all the way to the back of the room full of people who want to speak about the good Godly man you were and the way that your life is living on. How do you get there? You let God develop you here. You look God worked those bad things and hard things together, but you continue to look to God, even when it seems like he is not looking at you. The details matter. You're in development.
Next, jot this down. The driving force in all of this. The driving force in all of this is the Holy Spirit. That's why I said, you've got to have a promise, a plan, and a power supply. Jesus said, following me, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. One of the greatest mistakes you could make would be to try and do God's will without God's power. God has given you a power supply. That Keurig's not making coffee without that 110 volt power coursing through it. You need that alternating current somebody.
And so the Christian has been given access to the Holy Spirit of God to energize our efforts, and that's what Romans 8 is all about, by the way. 19 times, if you read Romans 8, the word Holy Spirit is mentioned. 19 mentions of the Holy Spirit in the greatest chapter in the Bible. 19 mentions of the Holy Spirit in the chapter in the Bible that tells us about no condemnation in Christ and talks about no separation in Christ and talks about all things working together for good. Why? For us to day to day functionally believe nothing can condemn us nothing, can separate us, and all things work together. We need the Holy Spirit, and that's what he's been given for. So what does that mean? That means relying on the Holy Spirit. That means every day asking God, please fill me afresh. I need your power. How does the Holy Spirit find his way to do what he wants to do in your life? It's very simple. You have to mention the name of Jesus, because we have been given a name attached to the promise.
So Jesus said, the Holy Spirit, when he comes, He will glorify me. So the Holy Spirit is obsessed with Jesus. So when we live our lives focused on Jesus, that's irresistible to the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit was a grizzly bear, mentioning the name of Jesus is the equivalent of leaving food out while you're camping, all right? Don't do it. It's a bad idea. But the Holy Spirit just comes in where Jesus is being honored and glorified, and then secondly, the Holy Spirit is obsessed with humility. And the proudest way to live is not needing God's power. Flexing your spiritual muscles. The Holy Spirit is not coming in on that, but those who humble themselves, those who humble themselves God shows his power to. He humbles the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. So God's grace floods in.
What could your life look like if each morning you just said, God, I need you. Would you give me your spirit, would you give me your power? And then whenever you got tempted, you accept it and ask for it again and afresh God's spirit to come into you. Even if in your mind do you want to think about like plugging in a coffeemaker each morning. That's how I begin my day, and in moments where I need to reset, that's what I'm doing. God, breathe in, breathe out. New power. Breathe in, breathe out. The Holy Spirit's compared to a wind, and when the Holy Spirit first came, he came like a mighty rushing wind. So the thought of all these things that we're doing. I know it's daunting to think about all things working together for good, and I'm in development and all these details and I'm trying to become table salt, but it's not on you to muscle through them, that's on the Holy Spirit, and that's why we worship and that's why we trust so he can give us the power to do what we could never do on our own and in our weakness, His strength is made perfect.
All right, so Romans 8:28 has a destination in mind too. And that destination, which is our next D word is heaven. A big focal point of Romans 8 is all of creation and the Spirit's prayers and our own groaning pointing towards heaven. You see, because everything that we would put in the category of bad thing that we want God to work together for good, all of these things are things minus from heaven. Think about it. In heaven, there's no sin, in heaven, there's no sickness, in heaven, there's no deceit. In heaven, there's no there's no despair. There's no sense of guilt. So all of us are longing for a life without decay. All of us are longing for a life without the grief, the heavy thick grief, that we feel pulling into a cemetery. That feeling when you get a text. So and so's been in a car accident.
So and so has now been diagnosed with cancer. The loved ones in your life, when you think about that, when you process that grief, what does it make you do on the inside? Well, according to Romans 8, it makes you groan. And all of us know the feeling, the groaning feeling of hearing that someone took their life of someone was taking advantage of. Someone who was brutally murdered. We just groan, and when we think about heaven, when we think about glory, there's none of that anymore, OK? So why is that connected to hard things being used for good? Because when we remember the coming glory that is ours in Christ, it alters our perspective because we remember this life is not all that there is. And most of us, our problems with the whole idea of good is that we narrowly defined good based on this life.
What I get to experience, what I get to have in this life. But that's like checking into a hotel and upgrading the sofa. That's like, I'm staying in a hotel, I'm going to be here for two or three days, so I'm going to buy a new TV. And you know what? These countertops, they got to go. I need granite in this hotel room, and it's like how ridiculous to invest so much in something that you're not living in forever, and that's to be a Christian following Jesus but to only care about this life and to have no thought of the next. What is this life? I mean, even if you get 70 or 80 or 90 or even, wow, shocking, 100 years. What is that compared to forever? What is that compared to eternity? And the Holy Spirit groaning in us with groans that can't be uttered wants us to process the present difficulty in light of the coming glory. And then it puts it all into perspective.
Like Paul said in Romans chapter 8. He said, "I consider that the sufferings of this present life". This is verse 18. "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us then". Think about it. I was talking to my buddy this week. He's planning a trip to Indonesia. Why? Because he lives in Hawaii. Here's why you should never live in Hawaii. You'll have to vacation somewhere still, because Hawaii then is the place where you pay bills and mow the lawn and have to go to the post office, so what do you do? You have to go to Indonesia. It just becomes more complicated, all right? So I was talking to him, he's planning this trip and all this, and he's told me before how long the flight is and you know you're literally traveling for like 24 hours, and he's like, it's wonderful, because the whole time we're thinking about the waves we're going to surf on the way when we get there.
And I just love that because that's what Paul's saying here. Paul's saying, every time we face difficulty, it reminds us this world is not our home. It reminds us it's not all that there is. So the gift of the difficulty is it keeps our eyes on the actual prize. It keeps our eyes on our actual home. Like Joni Erickson Tada has well said, every time she thinks about this life just being about happiness and creature comforts, the pain reminds her, my true life is in heaven. I am going to walk again. I am going to have a brand new glorified body again, and so will you without any of the things that cause there to be a gray lining on the difficulty. So we keep our minds on the destination and one of the good things about pain is that it makes us long for heaven, and it makes us then capable of living for heaven.
All right, lastly, and we're almost done here. What is the dependability of Romans 8:28? The dependability. How dependable is this promise? Because again, it's a good promise. All things work together for good. That's a great promise that becomes even more powerful when you remember the power and the, plan but a promise is only as good as the one who's making it, right? Like I could teach you how to ride a horse. I could tell you that. Consider the source, though. You know what I'm saying? Like, I'm not the guy you want to teach you how to ride a horse. Like that's not me. So my promise doesn't line up with my life. So when we have a promise from God who says, I can make all things work together for good.
Consider the one who said it. He's never failed, and he has proved himself more than capable of taking bad, taking toxic, taking pain, and working it together for good, and consider the cross as proof. The pain, the brutality, the awfulness of it all. And what did God work through it? He brought many sons, many daughters to glory. He's given us all new life and He did it out of death, so he's able to take your death, to take your pain, to take your loss, and to bring something beautiful out of it.
So that's what we keep in mind. The picture on the box is everything when we're doing a puzzle. My family likes doing puzzles. Not so much me but I noticed that whenever they do puzzles, they always set the box up so they can keep looking at the picture. What we've been trying to do today is establish what the picture on the box is. When you get handed a puzzle piece, when you get handed a puzzle piece of pain, what you're going to be tempted to do is to look at a box of comfort, to look at a box of control, to look at a definition of good that's not God's. But when our picture on the box is us becoming like Jesus, us living on mission for heaven, and that's becoming better along the way, then we can say, even if I don't understand where this piece fits, I know it's a part of this plan somehow. I know it's a part of this plan in some way.
If God be for us, who can be against us? If God be for us, if God be on our side, who can be against us? That's the ultimate message of Romans 8:28. And he locks it in. I don't even know if you saw. The last word we read when I read you the scripture was the word glorified. If you look at it one more time, it's Romans 8 verse 30. It's been called the five links in the chain of God's Providence by theologians. That those God predestined he foreknew, those He foreknew, he called. Those He called, he justified, and those He justified, look at it right there. He glorified.
Now, that word glorified is in the past tense. He already did it. It's already done, but He ultimately refers to the picture on the box, which is us coming out of the ground in brand new bodies that don't get tempted by lust or don't get deceived or don't ever get abandoned. It's perfection in heaven which is fully when we're finally like Jesus. That hasn't happened yet, but he slipped it in here in the past tense. The Greek definition is aorist. He referred to a future event in the past tense, which FIY, only God can do. You can't talk about your trip to Baskin Robbins later in the past tense, because there's 1,000 things that could keep you from doing it.
When does life go like planned? So God is the only one who can refer to a future event in the past tense, and He did it when describing your glorification in heaven. Because there is nothing and knowing that can stop him from doing what he said he would do. So what does that mean? That means that God is the only person who is able to declare over your life all things are going to work together for good, because I who see the end from the beginning already know how I'm going to do it. So will you trust me between now and then is the only question.
And so Father, I pray that would be what would be the story of this day. That you are for us. If God is for us, who can be against us? So the real question waiting to be determined today is do we really believe that you are good? Because if you are good, then you're going to do good, even if life is bad. Even if life feels bad. And my prayer today that would wash over us like a cleansing flood, like a cleansing rain would be a renewed belief in the goodness of God.
I feel in my spirit that there are some today who the enemy has lied to you. He's been whispering in your ear that God doesn't care about you, that God doesn't see you, and you're struggling because you're feeling condemned now, and you're feeling like the sword and the angels and the tribulations and the height and the depth have separated you from the love of God and that your own mistakes and failures have somehow made you unlovable by your Father. God brought you here today so that you could drive that stake into the ground so deep that God is good and that God is for me, and if I had that settled, then I can face anything and know that he's going to work it together. I don't even need to know the details. I just trust that he's doing something with it.
If that's you I'm describing and God brought you here to renew your belief in the goodness of God, can I just ask for you to raise your hand up? Raise your hand up right there, right there. God bless you. God bless you. Thank you for your vulnerability. Thank you for your honesty. I just pray you feel so seen by him right now, because you are. Bless these. Bless them God. Give them strength. Give them peace. All things. You could put your hands down. I want to now invite those who are here and you've not made that decision to put your faith in Jesus yet. The Bible says that those He called and justified and even glorified in the past tense yet, as we live in between now and the fulfillment of that promise that heaven is so certain. Glorified bodies are so certain. Being reunited with loved ones is so certain. You already talk about it in the past tense, because this as good as done. And that all has been written in your book, the lamb's book of life from before the foundation of the Earth. And here we sit.
Some of you are about to give your life to Christ, and you're going to fulfill a prophecy that was written about by God before he even made the world. I hope the awareness of such a big God, such a powerful God would cause you to be filled with confidence, because you still, here's the wonder. You still have a part to play in it. His foreknowledge does not preclude our responsibility to make a decision. For the Bible says that God says to the wicked, every day repent and that he does not delight in a wicked person's death and that God gives not want anyone to perish but wants everyone to come to know eternal life. So his awareness of what we're going to do does not take away our responsibility to still choose. But today, give your life to Christ, and it will be because God loved you before you loved him.
If that's you I'm describing and you would say I want heaven, I want hope, I'm not going to look to heroin to give me home, I'm going to look to Jesus to be everything my heart has ever longed for. Good for me. This definition is no longer three car, three bed, two bath, two cars in the garage. Something in the 401(k). No, good is bigger. It's broader. It's heaven. It's kingdom. It's my part in a thousand generations. It's what God's doing in the world.
If you would say I want to give my life to Christ, I'm going to pray a prayer. I'm going to ask you to pray it with me. I'm going ask the church family to say this with you saying essentially that we're accepting you into the family, because we're no better than you. We just got here first. Say this. Meet it in your heart. God will hear you, wherever you are, Portland, Oregon, Victor, Idaho. Watching church online, listening on Spotify. No matter where you are, God will hear you and come into your heart. This is your day of salvation. Say this:
Dear Lord Jesus, please come into my heart. Make me new. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for rising from the dead. Thank you for saving me, justifying me, glorifying me. I will follow you. Please fill me with your spirit. This is my new beginning. I am a child of the King in Jesus' name.