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Watch 2022 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - Love and Thunder

Levi Lusko - Love and Thunder


Levi Lusko - Love and Thunder
TOPICS: La Familia

Well, we welcome you at every single location across Montana; into Oregon and Portland; Salt Lake City, Utah; Victor, Idaho; Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and all across the country and world, Fresh Life Church online. Thank you for coming. Thank you for being with us. It's a pleasure and a privilege to have you in here our home. You guys can grab a seat. Thank you so much, team. We have so much going on in the life of our church. We are 25 days away from our movement conference, where we are welcoming in groups of youth and youth groups from all over literally the place, coming, I was looking at this week the list of states that are sending in groups. And it's just an amazing thing.

We welcome the youth of the country this summer to Bigfork, Montana. And it's not too late to grab a spot for your group. If you're a parent, and you've got a teenager and they've got some friends, make your own group. We, of course, have official legit youth groups is coming as well. And, of course, the students and youth of Fresh Life Church. Additionally, they were telling me that July 22 is the deadline to get into our fall semester of the Fresh Life Leadership College. And so you can go to freshlife.church/college, and that's midnight Pacific time, to get all, that's so specific. That is intense. So you've got to wake, you've got to set an alarm, or do it today. You don't need to procrastinate like that, but that's July 22.

So we want to make sure those things are on your radar. Hey, if you have a Bible, we're going to be in Psalm 128. For the next three weeks we are going to base camp out of Psalm 128. Let me throw down a challenge to anybody in the church who can take the time to memorize Psalm 128. I believe so much in the power of hiding scripture in your heart. Jesus constantly quoted the Bible, and specifically, he often quoted from the Book of Psalms. In fact, did you know that the Book of Psalms is the most commonly quoted book of the Bible in the New Testament. And it's more often than anything else what came out of his mouth. He would quote the Book of Psalms, even hanging on the cross.

And, of course, how does he do that? How do you quote a scripture if your arms are nailed down? You, of course, you can't pull out a Bible. It has to be hidden somewhere. It has to be hidden in your heart. How did Jonah, even in the belly of the whale, quote from the Bible, and specifically, quote from the Book of Psalms? These things were hidden in his heart. You will only have in those hard dark moments that which you ahead of time carefully laid aside. And so it is such an important, and perhaps in our day of, it's one Google search away, lost art of memorizing scripture.

And so let's memorize together Psalm 128. Post a video. Tag us on social media once you nail it, have your kids doing it. And by the end of our three-week series that we're calling La Familia, let's all try and have this Psalm memorized. Amen? Anybody with me on that challenge? Yes. I'll take your quiet response as an indication that you are passionately with me, as I challenge you to literally memorize six verses. And as I have said again and again and again, how many of more Drake lyrics than you know what to do with, and half the movie Dumb and Dumber? And yet, you're like, I don't know, man. That's a big old, a whole chapter of the Bible. That's really going to do me in, tell you what. All right, Psalm 128, La Familia.

Father, we thank you for your word. Even as we now open it and begin this new journey, this new series, we are grateful at the outset for all that you have for us in the midst of this. And I know you have been speaking to my heart so clearly, so specifically, and so gloriously, that we cannot help but to speak your grace, your great grace multiplied over what we're going to see and discover in these coming days. We pray for salvation, pray for healing, pray for reconciliation. And I pray, God, a deep sense of calm, as even the announcement of a series where we're going to talk about parenting and marriage and family just brings so much difficulty, so much anxiety, for the fear, the clenched fear, that how I'm actually doing the real details of my life, and now opening up God's word, and to look at the ideal, and to look at what you've declared it should be and could be is going to be for all of us on some level a disconnect. What we're living and how you've told us life should go is they're not going to line up. And I pray all of us could relax, to know that you never address what we should be. You address what we are. And your word says, a smoldering coal fire you will not put out or extinguish and call pathetic. You will lovingly get on your knees and blow on those coals. And so we know today God in our marriages, in how we're approaching parenting, in how we're approaching family, there are going to be regrets. And yet, we welcome you blowing on the coals today. And then even the bruised parts of our heart, you're not just going to break those things. You're going to strengthen and splint them and fight for our future, and never shame us for our past. So thank you. We need you. We love you, and we trust you. In Jesus' name we pray together, Amen.


The title this message, as we kick off this three-week talk, and, again, you're going to want to hear all three weeks, because this is a sermon broke down into three weeks, and you'll want to collect them all to win the prize. The title of this message is Love and Thunder, with deepest appreciation, gratitude, and love for Stan Lee and Chris Hemsworth and the whole Disney empire for a wonderful sermon title that did not actually get inspired by the Thor movie. But did, in fact, come from my favorite CS Lewis quote. Someone asked me that this week. That's a hard question, what's your favorite CS Lewis quote? I felt my eye twitching, because I was just like rolling through the category of amazing things that man has said and written. But I think, and what I responded was, my very favorite thing, and if you've never read the Chronicles of Narnia, it all kicks off with the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe.

Parents pro tip, if you haven't read that series to your kids, get on that. And if it's been a while since you've read it, double get on that. And if you don't have kids yet, get on that. There is a lion in the book that represents Jesus. And this lion, of course, dies for the traitor, dies for the treacherous dies for the sinful, dies for the one who had access to everything, but chose to snub it all, and to scorn it all. His name was Edmund. And Aslan, the lion, sacrificially dies, having done nothing. It's his picture of the gospel. He gives his life. He's all power. No one can take it from him, but he lays it down lovingly, willingly, and then comes back to life. Spoiler alert, that's the story. So everything in our life is predicated upon the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

So here, you bring your situation, here you bring your pain, here you bring your darkness. We are coming to the one who laid his life down and then took it up again. That's where we start with impossible things being completely on the table because of what Christ has done. Well, after his Resurrection in the book, there are two girls, Lucy and Susan. And it was their brother's sin that brought into the story the death of Aslan. And after he rises from the dead, even though there is so much to do, even though there is so much to be done, the ramifications of his victory being fully realized and yet completely unrealized at the same time, the whole Narnia needs to still be saved. All the people need to be turned back from stone into flesh. And yet, Aslan takes the time to play with the girls.

And I can't imagine how awesome it would be to play with the lion. And the lion, right? And he sheaths his claws and they're velvety. And they play and they frolic. And every time they jump and bounce, flowers start growing, and it's just this beautiful picture of Resurrection, life of life in the spirit, life with the spirit of God, the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. And afterwards, they're rolling in the grass, and Lucy realizes that even though she was terribly hungry and terribly thirsty and had been up all night and was cold, she wasn't hungry anymore. She wasn't thirsty anymore. And the most amazing thing is she thought back to this hour frolicking with a lion. She said, she never could decide whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten, love and thunder.

In this series, in this collection of talks, what we're going to be discussing, here's our stated goal for the series, how to build a family that can withstand storms. How to build a family, how to build a home specifically that can withstand storms. Studies show that in America last year, one out of 10 homes were damaged by extreme weather, one out of 10, over 14 million homes in America damaged by extreme weather. Of course, we know some of the usual suspects, like tornadoes and hurricanes and flood. But, of course, unexpected cold can be just as disastrous in an area not ready for it, prepared for it, or prone to it. All of a sudden, damaged pipes. We know this has happened in Texas. I mean, goodness gracious, even this past week, lime-sized hail falling from the sky out of apocalyptic-looking clouds. I saw those clouds. I thought, Jesus is coming back today, y'all. I said, come on out here, y'all. We got to see Jesus. He's coming back.

That's what those clouds look like. And where I'm preaching in Montana, just out of nowhere, just damage just coming down, Act of God is how we describe that, to the tune last year of $56.9 billion in damage. I know we all think like, no, this is where I live. This is amazing. This is, nothing's moving this house. And then all of a sudden, God is like, oh, really? Well, all the rivers are going to change now. And the Bible says God sets the course of rivers. And we see how fragile our civilization really is. All it takes is one flood. All it takes is one event. All it takes is one hurricane.

Now, of course, that's physical storms. But we also know there are other kinds of storms, other kinds of Acts of God, other kinds of disasters, other situations and deals that we will have banked on that all of a sudden go south, relationships, and all of a sudden things go topsy-turvy. People that we love all of a sudden are stricken by disease and die. There's medical emergencies. And you can just be going along. It is smooth sailing. All it takes is one text message, you know. Storms come to us all. And Jesus said in Matthew 7, the thing that determines how a home, how a family, how a life does in a storm is what that house is built upon. And a house that looks amazing, and everyone's jealous of it when they see the photos of it on Pinterest and on Instagram and I want my house to look like that house.

Man, I'm telling you, it takes one storm to realize that sucker was built on sand. And many of the lives that we ourselves crave are not built on, have no substance to secure for them the safety in that time. Jesus said, that the foolish man builds his house on sand. It looks amazing. But then the storm takes it out, and great is its fall. But the man who listens to my teachings, Jesus said, "and does them"? there's two things in there. It's not enough to know some Bible, y'all. Not enough to go to some church. It's not enough to have John 3:16 even memorized. You can't just know God's word. Jesus said, so the man who knows the word and does my word and does what I tell him to do, that man will still face the storm. It will still beat on the house. The wind will still rage. The difficulties will still be hard. But it will still be standing. It will not be quickly broken.

Now, many of you know that parable. It's called the parable of the builders. But did you know that many theologians suspect and believe that Jesus based that parable on 128th Psalm, and that the promises contained in Psalm 128 are, in fact, what Jesus had fueling his imagination as he took that scenario and played it out in the lives of two different homes, in the lives of two different families. And so my heart's prayer, and the reason I believe and suspect that while I took a few weeks to pray and prepare for the rest of this year of teaching, and baby, I got some sermons for this year. I'm telling you. I got some messages. I got some serious planning. I got some stuff that I'm ready to dive into. But the first thing, the foremost thing ringing in my heart when I listened to Holy Spirit as he was whispering to me was to preach on marriage, to preach on family, to preach on the home, to, shameless plug, focus on the family. And I did this while I was in Mexico. And so the sermon series ended up being called La Familia. There you are. It's not any more complicated than that. La Familia? why? Because I believe God wants our homes built on rock and not sand. It's as simple as that.

How many of you want a home, a life, a marriage, family, and a legacy built on rock, not on sand? Well, then, we have come to the right place, Psalm 128. In a day of confusion, in a day of distortion, in a day where people and culture are basing things off of their feelings and not on what God has to say, we turn our attention to what inspired Jesus to write one of his best parables. And we read, "Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house; your children, like olive plants, all around the table. Behold, thus, shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel".

How many of you received that blessing from God's word spoken over you? This is one of the Psalms of ascent, so named because it would be quoted and sung as a part of the Israelites' road trip playlist. How many of you love a good road trip? Anybody? That was a very meager response here. Y'all, these questions can be responded to, right? You're a part of the sermon here. Does anybody love a road trip? Anybody love getting in the car? Anybody love loading up and heading west, or heading east, and just seeing where the road takes you, and that feeling of asphalt under your rubber, right? And, of course, we love to manage and curate the playlist and the vibes and the experience. And there's nothing like the windows down, and the wind blowing in, and the heat, and the road under you, and the music all around you.

There's something about that for about 20 minutes. And then we're like, dang it, should have flown, right? I mean, the kids are angry, and where's the bathroom, and are we there yet? There's good with the bad. You got to take the good the bad, right? And I remember as a child, just loading up in the family station wagon or minivan for the long drive from Colorado to Michigan. Most of those memories are bad. But there's something about the songs that you sing and music. There's certain songs that just transport us, a little Lynyrd Skynyrd on. You think about how you feel when you listen to certain songs. And man, "Sweet Home Alabama'"? I mean, that is on, is that on your road trip playlist? Anybody? Yeah, of course it is. We just all feel some kind of way. And did you know that Jesus sang Psalm 128 with his disciples every time they would go to one of the three pilgrim feasts?

There were three feasts in the calendar that God had said, here's how the Jewish year is supposed to be laid out. There are seasons to a year. And part of that for the Jews in that day meant going to Jerusalem for three of the different feasts, and their year was packed with feasts. I was telling our staff at our staff summit a few weeks back it's clear how much God loves a party. Because there's just all these feasts. Like, here's a party. Here's a party. There is a party. God clearly loves a party. And NT Wright once said that the Kingdom of God, which was inaugurated at the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and will be officially culminated when the events of the Book of Revelation are realized, and Christ does return on a cloudy day, by the way. Jesus said, out of the clouds I'll come riding.

So when it is cloudy, I mean, he's not coming back on a cloudless day. That's all we know. When is he coming? I don't know, but there's going to be clouds involved. And that day there's going to be wine flowing from the hills, and the trees are going to clap their hands, and the mountains and rocks will split into, and he'll make every wrong right. And there will be no more crying, and no more disease, and no more tears. How many of you are down for that day? That's the kingdom realized. Well, between it being inaugurated as a Resurrection, and of course, fully realized, there is us. There is me and you seeking to be the hands and feet of Jesus, seeking to have the kingdom of God within and shine it out of our eyes until it's realized from without. And that's what it means to go to work as a Christian. And that's what it means to go to school as a Christian. And that's what it means to be on summer break as a Christian student. It's to be the Kingdom of God in an expression while the world is still broken, as the spirit of God is still inviting others to participate in it.

So we're trying to make elbow room at the table. So we're trying to make more space at the party. And NT Wright said, the Kingdom of God can be understood as Jesus saying, let the party continue. Let the party continue. That's why so many times Jesus chose to say the Kingdom of God is like, the Kingdom of God is like. And so many of the times he said that, he said it's like a wedding party. It's like a wedding party. Who doesn't love a wedding party? Who doesn't love a wedding reception? I mean, they're so enticing environments that people crash them even if they don't even know the couple. I just want to be in this environment. And so you think about grandma dancing with the ring bearer. You think about calories not counting. Champagne and cake, yeah, why not? That's what the kingdom of God is like.

My friend Brant Cryder likes to say, God's kingdom isn't beige. It's beautiful. It's colorful. It's not what you think church is like. It's not what you think religion is supposed to be like. It's meant to be vibrant. It's meant to be beautiful. Y'all, let the party continue, we like to say around here. And so we have songs that would be sung on the way to these parties, and Psalm 128 is one of them. So when we memorize this, I want you to have a vision. These are words that came out of the mouth of Jesus while walking down the road with his disciples getting ready for a party. And what is the heartbeat of this Psalm? And so here's a snapshot of the coming weeks of the series. It's counterintuitive. But what Jesus is saying is the best thing you and I can do for the world is to have a strong and healthy family; that the best thing that you and I can do for our family is to have a strong and healthy marriage. And the best thing you and I can do for our marriage is, is to have a strong and healthy soul.

This is the response we should have in our heads when we see another shooting. And another thing, and, of course, hot take, but the response and the answer that's always going to be in our culture is, we've got to pass another rule. We've got to pass another law. We've got to outlaw these things. But our response should be, wait a minute. If the world is broken, what can I do for the world? Strong and healthy family. What can I do for my family? Strong and healthy marriage. What can I do for my marriage? Strong and healthy soul. So what we feel like doing is posting. What we feel like doing is arguing. What we should be doing is praying. What we should be doing is turning to God. What we should be doing is having a healthy soul. This Psalm says all of that ramifications and ripples that we read about, that starts with this amazing person who fears God and walks in his ways, what does it lead to? This marriage is like a healthy vine. The marriage is like a healthy vine? Oh, my gosh.

Now, all of a sudden, you've got these amazing, happy little olive plants. And then what happens? Then blessings come out of Zion on Jerusalem, a city. And that peace is upon Israel, a country. And how the country is doing can have positive ripple waves and shock waves all across the world. So I'm brokenhearted about a shooting. But let me think about it for a second, broken home, broken home, broken home, without a father, without a father, without a father. So there needs to be something strengthened in the home, something strengthened in the marriage. What can we do for a broken world? We can strengthen our soul, strengthen our marriages, strengthen our families, and those things are going to positively impact the world. So while it seems painfully obvious when you look at it, the answer of culture is always going to be wrong.

John Phillips puts it this way, quote, "The welfare of the state depends on the welfare of the home. The welfare of the home depends on the spiritual condition of the head of the home. An unspiritual father will often produce unsaved children, and unsaved children will build an unstable state". So in many ways, this series is an attempt to provoke the men of the church to be like Jesus, to be a man of God who sees himself as a husbandman, as someone who takes care of and cultivates the health of a vine.

My friend Ben Stewart in his book Single, Dating, Engaged, Married, I love that awesome title, because it's so simple and beautiful, puts it this way. Quote, "So much of the pain in the hearts of little girls comes from dads who never initiated and took them on dates when they were young. So much of the heartache of young men arises from dads not initiating spending quality time with them. So much of the crime and societal problems in our country stems from men abandoning their wives and their children". And, of course, we are going to continue to see and hear events of brokenness, even in a country like Japan where guns ownership is completely illegal. Someone's going to make a gun in a garage. Take a country like England. There's no, there's very hard access to guns. People will get in their car and drive into crowds of people. So the answer is not just another law, another legislation.

And, of course, there's lots of opinions on all sides of that. But I think up in here what we can agree on is you change your heart, you change the world. You change a soul, you change the world. And how do we change the world? We have to have strong homes. If we're going to have strong homes, have strong and healthy marriages. And if we want to have strong and healthy marriages, what do we do? This text tells us, fear God and walk in his ways, for that is how you have a healthy soul. So what can we do? What can we do with the despair we see in the world? We can focus on fearing God and then walking in his ways, which those are, I'm going to show you, two different ways of saying the same thing. What this really boils down to, and it sure is not the message maybe some of you came to hear. I need to have five things I can do to make my family better, my marriage better. I thought you were going to say go on a retreat or book a counseling session. But where does it start?

The Psalm starts with the fear of God. What does it mean to fear God? Well, it's certainly something that we read all across the pages of scripture, Old and New Testament alike. Both Peter, who knew a thing or two, and Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived, in their quest to boil down and distill all of this to just as succinct as a statement as possible, both ended up saying, look, you just got to fear God. You just got to fear God. That's what it comes down to. What does the fear of the Lord lead to? Well, Proverbs says it is the beginning of wisdom, the beginning of knowledge, and able to turn you away from the snares of death and lead you into God's Zoe life, abundant life that he wants you to have. Proverbs 19:23 says, "The fear of the Lord leads to life. The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it," the fear of the Lord, "will abide in satisfaction". Anybody want that? The world sings, "I can't get no satisfaction". It's almost like you want some? Fear God.

You want satisfaction? You want to not be visited with evil? Well, how do you get that life? How do we see the world change? How do we see our parenting dynamic change? How do we see my marriage change? We start with the fear of the Lord. So what does it mean to fear God? Well, we obviously know there's a bad fear and a good fear. Or maybe we don't obviously know this. But did you know that when we think about actual fear, like I'm afraid of that. I have an irrational fear of snakes, or I'm afraid of the dark, or I'm afraid of confined places. Some of you are getting a little bit clammy. I'm just listing off the things. Some of us have fears that we're afraid of. Well, do you know the Bible says that God has not given us a spirit of fear? 2 Timothy, 1:7. So when we talk about a spirit of fear, or that kind of terror, obviously, that's not from God. And there has been in a bad way fear exploited in the name of religion.

So what do we mean when we talk about the fear of the Lord, or as some people have put it, a Holy fear? We are distinctly placing it in a different category than the spirit of fear, or the feeling of being afraid. That, we can choose to not walk in. Because as I've preached before, if God didn't give it you, don't got to keep it. So when you're feeling a spirit of fear, in the name of Jesus that has no power over you. He didn't give you that spirit of fear. He gave you a sound mind. He gave you power. He gave you love. And so we can choose to walk in that confidence, and not choose to walk in our insecurities, but to walk in a God security. That's a negative fear. What's a positive fear, then? What's a Holy fear? What does it mean to fear the Lord? I believe it means to understand that God is a God who we both can approach like a kitten, but also has that power.

Imagine tumbling around with a thunderstorm, that to spend time with him, to know him, to walk with him, is all at the same time to be in the presence of a kitten, and also to experience the power, the bone-rattling, humbling power that comes when you are in the presence of thunder. I'm telling you, conversations stop when thunderbolts strike. You stop and assess what's going on here. Am I in a situation of peril? How far away was that? I'm going to need you to finish that thought in the second. Are we OK? Thunder reminds you how frail you are. Oh, I know you're a big shot. I know you have so much money. I know you're the boss of such a big company. All of a sudden thunder, Pitter, pitter, pitter, pitter, pitters, right? Because we all know lightning strikes the wrong spot. It doesn't, it's no respecter of persons. It will melt your feelings in your teeth. They will come and identify the remains based on the small charred spot where you were once at one point standing.

Thunder, thunder, I fell before him as though dead, John said, the beloved apostle who saw the risen Lord. This flippancy, this casual kind of the man upstairs, or when I get to heaven, God's got some explaining to do. No he doesn't, actually, and he won't. But you will fall before him as though dead, waiting to hear the words get up. John, who saw Jesus with power that he couldn't even fathom, so he just tried to use as many superlatives and metaphors as he could possibly muster up, also laid on Jesus's breast at the Last Supper. Love and thunder, his power, his weight. But he's but he's also like a kitten. He also can sheath his claws and hold you in his velvety paws. You can spend time with him close enough to hear him whisper your name. And when you feel the breeze rustling across your cheek, that's him. It's that kindness, but also omnipotence. It's that majesty, but also meekness. It's that transcendence, but also weakness. It's the lion of the tribe of Judah who has prevailed. But I looked and I saw a lamb as though slain, who chose to come in our human form, never having sinned, but chose to die as though he were sin.

What is the fear of the Lord? Friends, it's the revelation that Jesus Christ who spoke stars into orbit. I hope you got your calendar set on Tuesday for these initial images of the James Webb telescope which launched on Christmas day, and is currently sitting a million miles away taking photos of what CBS has called the "let there be light" moment. And the initial sneak peeks, they've already released. But listen, whatever we see that Webb reveals on Tuesday, and I will be on the live stream, ,it was spoken by the mouth of Jesus, every star, every planet, every new galaxy. They're going to go, oh, that's a thing also. Just take it with a grain of salt anything any expert ever says. Because we actually don't know how many galaxies there are. So on Tuesday, we're going to be like, oh, as it turns out, George Washington died because of bloodletting.

So just let it sink in, whatever expert knows. And that was not that long ago. So the fear of the Lord, what is it? I don't know. I think it's realizing that that all came from the mouth of God. And when you stand in front of the ocean, and you hear it's pounding of the waves, he controls all that, holds all that, sustains all that. Yet, was willing to package himself up into human form and die on a cross for you. And I think that revelation will lead to a different Christian experience than a flippant, I can always ask forgiveness later. So I rage on Tinder, and I party like the world, and I value what the world values. But every once in a while, a little splash of Holy water and we're good, right? I think it's different. I think when you stand at the foot of the cross in your mind's eye, and you look up at your dripping, bleeding Savior, who has all of the power and fury of lightning in his eyes, but he chose to stay there because he loves you.

And so he was shamed and ridiculed like a worm, despised like no man ever should be, and suffocated until his heart gave out bursting. Thus, blood and water came out when the spear went through his rib cage. And he would say, I did that for you, Levi. I did that for you. I had your name written on the palms of my hands when the nails went in. I think what that leads to is the fear of the Lord. If there is a fear in it, it's not fear that he'll smite us down because he's loving. It's fear that we would ever be given such a truckload of love and treat that lightly, and then go on sinning that grace may abound, because I can always ask forgiveness later. I think the fear of the Lord is the profound reverential awe that comes over a heart marked by the cost of grace. And that we would be afraid of ever doing anything that would make the heart of our Savior sad who would love us so well and so triumphantly.

The fear of the Lord is what leads to walking in his ways. Blessed is the man or woman who fears God like that. The Romans 12:1 kind of fear, in light of the mercies of God, in light of what he's done, what do we do? We offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice. I want to offer my life to you, God, today. You want to use me? You want to send me somewhere? You want, like people go, why Montana? Why did you go to Montana? Because that's what God told me to do. I'd be just as happy to go to Siberia. I'd be just as happy, if Jesus who did that for me wants something from me, the answer is, yes. What's the question? You see, when we start out in that frame of mind, we lead, our next natural question is, I'll walk in your ways. I want to do what you called me to do. You are the way, Jesus. You are the way. So what do I want to walk in? The way. Blessed is the man who fears God in his heart.

So fear of God in your heart will lead to walking in his ways with your feet. So that's the big idea, and that's where we start from. And I think that's a different conversation than maybe most marriage or parenting seminars. But that's where it starts. It becomes a reasonable service to offer our lives as a living sacrifice. And what will happen, here we go. Here's your list, those of you list-takers. Some of you are not, you didn't go to church if you didn't get an outline. The fear of the Lord will impact your finances; number two, your feelings; number three, your future; and number four, your family. And I took this outline from the commentary on the Psalms by John Phillips, who I quoted a moment ago. I couldn't put it better than he did. He literally says, that if you fear God, you will eat the labor of your hands. Because fearing God is going to change how you work. You're not going to cut corners. You're going to work with integrity. You're not going to jump ship the moment a better offer comes along, and feast times be one way, and famine time in another way.

I'm telling you, we are in for a reckoning. All this right now, this glut in the last couple of years, has led for a lot of people to have some intoxication with themselves, and the spirit of sort of like, if it's that hard, I'll just do something else. And that pays, that bill, that credit card bill comes due in lean times. What we do in the seven years of fat and excess determines what we have waiting for us in the seven lean years. But when we fear God, we have a different spirit about us. We have a different mentality about us. What's that going to lead to? Eating the fruit of your hands. You're going to approach work differently. You're going to approach life differently. That will have an impact on your finances. I'm just telling you something.

Andy Stanley likes to say, following Jesus will not just make your life better, it will also make you better at life. And read the book of Proverbs. Watch Jesus's principles. You're going to see finances flows towards vision. Living for Jesus is a vision. It's a life with vision. The second thing he said is it will impact your feelings. The text literally says, you will be happy. You will be happy. Following Jesus will lead to happiness. The word blessed can better be translated happy, happy. Like Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty, happy, happy. What does it mean to follow Jesus? He literally says in his word, there's going to be greater amounts of happiness. And number three, your future.

Who doesn't want to look at the future and know it's going to be better than the past? Well, following Jesus this promise says, it shall be well with you. That's future tense. What happens when you fear God and walk in his ways? What is your future going to look like? I don't know what the economy is going to do. I don't know what's going to happen in this next election. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. But here's what I can know. If you follow Jesus, it will be well with you. And whatever happens, whatever happens, whatever happens, you will be able to state into the future, it is well, it is well with my soul. That you have the promise, Isaiah 43, that even if fire shows up, even if floods show up, what's going to happen? You're going to pass through floods and not drown. You're going to pass through fire and not be burned. Even the valley of the shadow of death, you'll be able to pass through.

Who else in the world can give you that kind of a confidence? Who else in the world can say, oh, even when you die, it is well, it is well with my soul. Jesus wants to impact not just your past, forgiveness, not just your present, peace, but also your future, a confidence that the best really is yet to come. And then, of course, your family, and what we really set out to discover here. But I love that we're starting with our own hearts before we even begin to talk about our families. But following Jesus, the love and thunder of Jesus, will impact our families. And I want you to have this revelation. Jot this down. Your family begins before you have children. Your family begins before there's kids in the home. And hopefully will continue long after the kids have gone out of the home. I think we have, in our culture, this sort of expression, we want to begin a family now.

We've been married three years. We've been married seven years, but now we want to start a family, as though the presence of the children is the beginning of a family, and not the moment you stand at the altar and say, "I do". You now have formed a family. You now have formed a new household. God has taken two and brought them together into one. That's a family, and that's a different way of thinking about it. Because if you think the family begins when the kid comes into the home, that child now is the center of the home. But if you fear God, the child is not the center of the home. Jesus is the center of your heart. He's that which you orbit around. And so if the kid's in the home and that's the center.

Now soccer and this and that, everything is going to orbit around Johnny. Everything's going to orbit around Suzy. And guess what? They are not your Savior. They are not your Lord. Your child is a terrible thing to orbit around. But we are saved whole people, fear God, want to walk in his ways. We've come together. We've begun a family. And now a child is entered into a family of authority going down the river. So that's just in passing, something we need to throw out there. We'll talk more about that next week. Come back. I don't feel the pressure to get it all out there. I've got three weeks for the sermon. And approximately 11% of you will hear the whole thing. So yeah. We know your attendance patterns. The family is impacted as we follow God and fear him.

So when we fear God and walk in his plan for us, what can we expect to be released? As I said, we will continue on this conversation next week. The series is called La Familia. But let's circle back to CS Lewis, because we began with his statement. So let's talk about how this played out, this sense of the love and thunder of God playing out in his love life. He wasn't married until he was in his 60s. And when he finally married Joy Davidson, he never thought or had even the slightest notion that he could see in his life the kind of happiness that God brought into his life through his wife. And you want to talk about a life with a vine at the heart of your home, that's what he experienced. And then after just two years of being married, she tragically died of cancer which had invaded her body.

And in a book he wrote called A Grief Observed, it was one of the initial books I read after Lenya went home to be with Jesus, it gave me great comfort. Because this incredible, massive theologian pretty much writes this honest, dark book about how it felt like God had abandoned him in this moment of need, until the end when he, having given all that real feeling and raw feeling to God, then found the strength and the healing and turned a corner in his outlook. But he describes in this book, in my opinion, one of the most powerful description of what love can and should feel like in your heart. When you're walking with the fear of the Lord in your heart, walking in his ways, how that impacts and translates to a strong marriage. Which you may not have even noticed it before, but Ephesians 5, one of the principal passages on what the home should look like, the workplace should look like, family life should look like, and your marriage should look like, actually it begins with the fear of God.

A lot of you focus in on, well, the husband's got to do this, and the wife's got to do this. But it actually starts out by saying, both of y'all need to submit to each other in the fear of God. What should you look for, single people, in who you date and who you marry? What should be the questions you're asking, if while you're engaged you're trying to really figure out what's written on the soul of this person? Number one, most important thing, does this person fear God? Does this person fear God, and does that translate to walking in all of his ways? Because like Jesus said in Matthew 7, it's not enough to just know God's word, you have to what? Do God's word. Does this person fear God? But CS Lewis, after the death of his beloved wife Joy, he had this to say of his marriage. This is two short years, but oh, my gosh, y'all, prepare yourself. This is sexy. "We feasted on love, every mode of it, solemn and merry, romantic and realistic, sometimes as dramatic as a Thunderstorm. Sometimes comfortable and unemphatic as putting on soft slippers. No cranny of heart or body remained unsatisfied".

Whew. It's getting hot in here, Clive Staples. "She was my pupil and my teacher, my subject and my sovereign, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow soldier, my mistress. But at the same time, all that any man friend has ever been to me". When you're fearing God and walking in his ways, and that becomes the starting point for how do I treat my husband? How do I treat my kids? How do I show up at work? What does it look like to be a part of a community? What is it like to be like a part of a church community and a part of a citizen of this world? This is just some small taste of what that can lead to. And friends, this is something money can't buy. Ecclesiastes says, when you tap into that kind of a love, many waters can't quench it, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised, the money he got in exchange for the happiness he felt. So we can take some of that pressure off, dads, moms.

And I want to make sure there's language and room in for those who have been divorced, for those who are still single, all of those things that we can still see flourishing. We can still see vitality. We can still taste joy, regardless of what situation we're in as we follow Jesus with fear, that love and thunder. But if we were to trade what that leads to, that kind of a life, it would be despised what we would get, something as simple and crass as money. So the pressure is off in what we think our families need. There is not one person sitting in a counseling session this week somewhere in the country going, you know, money was tight. My parents were there for me, friends to me, kind and generous with their attention. And that's why I'm so messed up.

But there are a lot of people who are going to seek counseling this week who are going to talk about all the money you could possibly shake a stick at in this world, but parents emotionally unavailable, unwilling to give the kind of praise, the kind of nurturing, the kind of discipline that every heart craves. So what God wants for all of us, and what we're going to seek to get our minds and our hearts around in this collection of messages, is something that money could never buy, the kind of blessing and happiness on a life, on a heart, on a home, that has the power to change the world. And it begins with the fear of God in our hearts.

And so, Father, we thank you for this picture that whets the appetite. And I do ask and pray that even now for those who are hearing this, and just everything in their hearts crying out, yes, I want that. I want, God, what you want for me. And I don't have all the answers, and I haven't figured this all out, but I'm in on this. I'm single and I want that. I'm a parent, and I've got some regrets. I want that. I've been divorced, and here I sit feeling like damaged goods. But you're going, I want that. I want to, I'm stirred by this vision. If that's you I'm describing, could you just raise up a hand to God saying, I hear you, and this is what I want. I want that fear of God, and walking in his ways to mark my story, my life, my marriage. There's a lot of ramifications we've got to talk what about, what about, what about? I get it. But I'm just saying raise your hand if you're saying, yes, this is what I want. I want what God wants for me. Thank you, Jesus. Bless these at every location, church on line. I know you see them. We are not far from any one of us.


You can put your hands down. I thank you for the victory of that release, that moment, that raising up of Holy hands, as the word says. If you're here and you would say, you know, Levi, I don't even know where to begin. And I would say to you, it begins by asking the actual question, does God live in my heart? Am I saved? Am I a Christian? Have I been born again? Because this isn't about religious accomplishments. And you will never be right with your mate until you are right with your maker. You will never see that blessing in your little olive plants, your little arrows, as the Bible calls kids both, until you first bow your knee before your King.

And if this picture of Jesus hanging on the cross has aroused something in your heart, this is I need and want what he has, because that is so different than everything I've thought about what God wants for me. That's the gospel. That's the Holy Spirit you're describing. So I'm going to pray a prayer, and my church family is going to say it with us. And if you would say, I want to give my life to that King, Jesus, to the kitten and the thunderbolt alike. And you're saying, I'm in. Forgive my sins. Take my life. It becomes this day in everyday a living sacrifice, Say this with me. Say it out loud. Mean it in your heart. On the confidence of God's word you will be saved:

Dear God, please come into my life. Forgive me of my sins. I can't fix myself. I can't bring life to myself. But I believe you can. Because Jesus rose from the dead. So I bury myself in him that I may rise with him. That I may rise with him. I believe. I trust. I will follow. With your help. In Jesus' name.

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