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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - It's All In Your Head

Levi Lusko - It's All In Your Head

Levi Lusko - It's All In Your Head
TOPICS: Pioneer Series

I want to talk today about a faith that can move you forward, a faith that can move forward. The title of my message, It's All in Your Head. It's All in Your Head. That's what you say to the hypochondriac in your life, right? Anybody have someone in your life, honesty in church, who should not be allowed to go on WebMD? They will turn a cold into leprosy. You're like, come on, man. It's all in your head a little bit. You have a worrier in your family? And worrying is really a sign of intelligence and creative ideation. Those who tend to be anxious tend to have quick minds and tend to be really strategic thinkers. And that can serve you well, but can also serve you poorly when the sky is falling every time it rains.

In our family, her name is Clover. And Clover is switched on. Clover, I've told you before, one day I said, Clover, you're so smart. You always have a plan. One day you're going to need to run the church for dad. And she said, what is that going to mean? I said, I mean, I'll preach here and there, but you pretty well run everything else. And she goes, I'm going to need Fridays off. She was six. That was her initial response. I'm going to need Fridays off. It was done. Where do I sign? But Clover, Clover went through a phase where she was very worried about flooding, very worried about flood, constantly worried about flooding. I think it's going to flood. I'm afraid. Jennie and I would leave on a trip, what if it floods?

Last thing she would do before going to bed, check the locks, make sure the house is secure against floods. And I would always be telling her, honey, it's not really even a problem here. Montana doesn't get flooding. It's just not what happens. And, of course, last year we were all seeing in the news 1,000-year flood. And Clover looked at me, it's all in my head, huh? She was just planning for what she knew was coming. Say it out loud with me. Say, it's all in your head. It's all in your head. It's all in your head. We know that's where the problems lie. All of us deal with the toxicity. All of us deal with the rumination. We all, to some degree, fear and give in to anxiety sometimes and envy and self-seeking. We know that the problems are up there all in our heads.

So much of life really does come down to our mentally strong game. My daughter, Olivia, and I have been talking about this so much because she just concluded what has been an amazing tennis season that we a year ago didn't think it was going to be possible because of her back injury. There was a day where she couldn't move a year ago due to a herniated disk in her back at 17 on the tennis court. And so it looked very unlikely all through summer and fall that she would even ever be able to pick up a racket again. And not only to do so, to pick it up again and be able to move pain-free, thanks be to God and the prayers and the medicine and the help we got. But also, to come back on, and be co-captain of her team, and play singles one at the highest level, and have an incredible season.

But it's just a reminder to me every time I'm standing there watching her play of how much it comes down to the mental side of things. Athletes, soldiers, law enforcement, they understand this because they're trained, and they're given tools to train. And not just the physical side, not just what you do as a first responder physically, but also how do you mentally handle that? How do you deal with it? There's a mental side of performance, not just when it comes to the stresses of certain careers, but to the stress of living life on this planet. It's all, point to where it all is, it's all in your head. Scripture says, as a man thinks in his heart so he is. And we have to not just let our thoughts be what they are, but we have to choose to set our minds on things that are above.

Jesus said, we're not just to love God with our strength and with our heart and our soul, but were to love him with all of our minds. Paul talked about tearing down strongholds, lies that creep into our heads, stinking, thinking, rotten feeling that shows up in our minds. And we have to take every thought captive. We have to evaluate the thoughts that we're thinking and say, are they true? Are they good? Are they helpful? Are they beneficial? If not, bow down to the feet of King Jesus, whose mind I follow with my heart, whose mind I follow with all of who I am. It's all in your head. The problems may be in our minds, but the solution is there, too. The problem is in our mind and our thinking, but the solution is there, too.

It was Henry Ford, who said whether or not you think you can, you are right. I'll say that again because it's so dang good. Whether or not you think you can, you are right. Now, I'm not saying that the solution to every problem we face in this life is just as glib and as simple as, well, bro, mind over matter. Mind over matter. Like, anything you come against, well, it's just mind over matter. What I am saying, and what this book does reiterate from the beginning to the end, is that what you allow in your mind really does matter. And I want to show this to you in the life of someone in scripture who is held up for us as the pinnacle of what it means to follow God by faith. I had a chance to go and watch a basketball game this week between the Lakers and the Nuggets.

I was there in Denver to support my wife who was preaching. And then I bailed on her and her moment of need when tickets opened up, and... I'm sure you're going to do great, honey, I said. I'll be praying for you the whole time. But I had tried a number of times. People had given me tickets, and I tried to see LeBron. He was always injured. So I just wanted to see him play. And Michael Porter, Jr... amazing. And they were telling me about what was so big about this dude, Joker. Joker, they call him... Nikola Jokic. And he is the Serbian player who towers above, seven feet tall. He comes in, you're like, oh, my gosh. You see him snatching stuff over the heads of dudes who are 6'8" this cat, right?

And my friend, Shawn Johnson, who pastors a church in Denver, he was telling me that what was so what was so big about him and the reason he's been MVP a number of times is his ability to get triple doubles. And I'm like I've heard of a double-double at In-N-Out. What's a triple double? He said, a triple double is where you is where you get double digits for both assists and points and rebounds all in one game. And you get it all to double digits past 10. And this dude does this relentlessly. Even when he has off games, he'll still get triple doubles. Well, the reason I bring this up is because we're going to look in scripture at the story of somebody who gets a triple double in being a pioneer.

That is to say, he's got double digits when it comes to three different categories. And I'm going to show this to you in Hebrews 11. We're going to read verses 8 through 10 and then 13 through 19 because his story breaks up into two parts of it. And then, we'll look at his wife next week. But it says in Hebrews 11, "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents". My pastor growing up used to always say Abraham's life was in tents. These are the jokes, people.

"In tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. These all died in faith having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly, if they had called to mind", say it out loud with me, "called to, mind. That country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now, they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore" this is so huge, "God is not ashamed". That's another way of saying super proud, not ashamed, the opposite of being ashamed, so proud "to be called their God".

Imagine that. Living in such a way that God is like, I am amazed I get to be there God. I am proud I get to be there God. "For he has prepared a city for them. By faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, in Isaac your seed shall be called, concluding", underline that, concluding, reasoning, one translation says, thinking another has it, "that God was able..". Let's just stop right there. "He concluded God was able". Come on. Who fills your faith perking up? Concluding, thinking, what was he thinking? He was thinking God, whether or not you think God is able, you're right, in the sense of what he's going to able to do in your life. "Concluding that God was able to raise him up even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense".

Without going any further, does anybody just dare to say, thank you, God, for your word. Just even the reading of it has built me up, has given my hope something to stand on. It's noticeable, of course, and the author is doing so intentionally, just by sheer quantity of words how prolific double trouble is... Abraham, the triple double is, when it comes to the amount of faith that he possessed. I mean, when we take what ink has been spilled on Abel and Enoch and Noah and add them together, we're just at the preamble of Abraham's faith. This guy, unbelievable. And what would we expect of someone whose nickname is the father of faith. His name has gone down in history as a synonym for faith itself. They talk about certain people putting a place on the map, like, it's impossible to think about Florence without thinking about Michelangelo.

It's impossible to think about Key West, Florida without your mind going to Hemingway and the Pilar, and him typewriting and just swilling rum in the morning. You think about a place and certain people come to mind. When I say Cupertino, California, who do you think of? Steve Jobs. He put that place on the map. You think about Chicago, Illinois, Michael Jordan. Anybody with me? Like, you just think about certain people when you think about certain places. And when we talk about the subject of faith, Abraham quite literally put it on the map. In fact, those who believe, like Abraham did, and that's how it all happened. We won't read it. His story comes to us Genesis 12 through 25.

So an amazing amount of real estate is given to him in the first book of the Bible, as here in Hebrews and the rest of the Bible. Point to me the part of the Bible where Abraham is not singled out at some point. You are holding the maps, maybe. But even there, it's like Abraham's journey. You know what I'm saying? It got you, right? Abraham literally has gone down in history in connection to the idea of faith. As well, those who believe by faith, as Abraham did, go to where when they die? They go to where? Where do they go? Where do they go? Where do, they go to heaven. And heaven is always changing, meaning where it is. Currently, it is up, somehow, somewhere up. We don't know exactly where, but it's up above us. That's why we set our minds on things above. And we know that when Stephen died in Acts Chapter 7, heaven opened, and it was right there, and Jesus stood up to receive Stephen.

So where is it currently? It's up, and apparently it's closer than we think. We just can't see it right now. Because if God wanted to, he could just open up heaven for you right now. And you would see that your whole life, it was just right there above you, right there, just invisible currently. So it's currently up and above. But there was a day when it was down and below, meaning people didn't go up. They went down. They descended to death, both the righteous and the wicked. And there was this idea of sheol, or the grave, or descending into the place of the dead that in the Old Testament you read about. And there was two compartments, two different parts, two theaters to what death looked like. One of them was heaven, and one of them was hell.

Now, those names aren't technically correct. And, like I said, it's changing. But the event that changed it was the death of Jesus, believe it or not. He descended before he ascended. And he broke loose the chains of death from those who by faith had believed in him before he had even come. And he brought them with him to heaven where they and he are now currently. And heaven eventually will come back down, but not to descend below us but to fuse with a new earth after all the elements melt with a fervent heat, and God refashions them, glorious, refashions them without sin, without tarnish, without anything that decays, without moth and rust breaking things down, and without thieves breaking in and stealing. And there will be a new heaven and a new earth. This is what Abraham believed in, the city that was coming. This is still future to us, and it was very future to him because God hadn't even broken loose the chains of death yet.

So when Abraham died, he descended to a place that got nicknamed "Abraham's bosom". Because to sit in that place waiting for Jesus to come was to be associated with Abraham. So again, he put heaven on the map, this guy. And he was at the front of the victory parade with Jesus going to heaven. And when Jesus and Abraham and all the crew from the OT arrived in heaven, imagine the confusion of the thief on the cross, who had just most recently seen Jesus die. Jesus had been busy. Because as the thief on the cross arrived in paradise, there was a grand parade that he got to take part in. He was the last to see Jesus before he died, but he was the first to get to go to heaven, it would seem, without first going to Abraham's bosom. That's a lot more than you needed to know. I'm just saying, Abraham's the man. OK?

This is the man in God's eyes. And it's not just we that think so. There are three religions on this earth that all revere Abraham. One that got started accidentally. Her name is Hagar. It's a different sermon for a different day. That accidentally has led to what today is the faith of Islam that still reveres Abraham. You have Judaism, of course, which reveres Abraham as grandfather, they call him. And then, of course, Christianity, of which we are a part of a brand new way of looking at life built on the foundation of the Jewish prophets and the Jewish elders, the sons of Jacob. So there are a lot of people on the earth, all that I'm trying to say, that look to this guy as being significant. And he has been called faith's exemplar. So in a chapter that's boasting on some dope figures who lived lives of faith, he is like the cream of the crop. He is the Mount Everest of what it means to follow God.

In fact, Romans 4 verse 11 just calls him, goes ahead and calls him "the father of all those who believe". Not a bad day's work. But that's not my favorite nickname for Abraham. My favorite nickname is when God just said "my friend". God called him friend. And if you live a life of faith, God will call you friend, too. All right. So let's look at a little road map of Abraham's life. Of course, we cannot even scratch the surface of these words, nor can we presume to be able to unpack Genesis 12 through 25 in just a few moments of time. So what I want to do is give you just a thumbnail sketch of his faith. This is what his faith allowed him to do.

I want you to take a photo of it, or write these down. This is a road map of what made Abraham's faith so unique. When God called him, he obeyed instantly. In the midst of the craziness of what it meant to follow God, he endured uncertainty. And then when it took longer than he ever thought it could for God to do what God intended to do, because how many of you know God cooks with a slow cooker? The word microwave is not in his pantry. So what did Abraham do? By faith he dwelt patiently. How do you handle delays? How do you handle things? Do you take matters into your own hands? Or do you just trust God, trust the process, trust that he's the God of seasons? OK. What else did Abraham do? This text tells us that constantly he lived expectantly, looking forward. His faith pointed him which direction? Forward. His faith kept moving him forward into God's promises, into God's plans, into God's kingdom.

And then last, and certainly not least, nor would we ever say easily, but he did, in fact, trust God implicitly. No matter what God asked him to do, he by faith was willing to obey. So that's what Abraham's faith is all about. A little bit of background, when we meet him in Genesis 12, he was living in a place called Ur of the Chaldees, modern-day Iraq. And this was a luxe place to live if you had to live anywhere. This was the place you wanted to be. It was well-known for its art, its technological innovation. It was a big, safe city, a big, safe place to live. And if you ever drive around the country, one thing sticks out to you how much of our country is empty. Part of you is like, man, it'd be amazing to live out here, kind of. Except there's not safety. There's not city service. There's not cell service in a lot of these places.

So you want to be, if you're concerned of safety and access to the luxuries of life, you want to be in a city. And he lived in the pinnacle city of his time, where he did well for himself. We know he was successful. And I mean, to put on your mind like what it was like to live here. This is the place where they invented the hot tub, people. OK? So this is like, man, oh, you got a hot tub. So art and culture and music. And we know it was a place where there were so many different deities they worshipped, but they were most of all known and recognized for their worship of the moon god. And so in this place, out of this place, God just randomly inserts himself into Abram's story. And in Genesis 12 says, get out. Get out. So much for introductions. No pleasantries. No chit chat. Just get out. Get out of Ur. Get out of here. Get out of your country. It's all he got, to which the obvious question would be in response, to where? Get out, but to where?

God called him out, but did not tell him where he was going. In fact, God said, look at this, look at same verse again, "to a land I will show you". Friends, how do you pack for a trip like that? I want you to leave. I want you to move. And then God gave him no inclination of where they were going. But he did tell them, tell him long term what he was going to do through him there. He said, I'm going to make you a great nation. They had no kids. He said, I'm going to bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. To who exactly? Where are we going? I'm not going to tell you that, but I will tell you that I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you. And in you, all the families of the Earth shall be blessed. And can anybody just spot what we're currently doing right now, if not validating this truth? Standing blessed in a far-flung place thousands of years later because of the faith of this man.

Our God is a promise keeper, friends. We today are the fulfillment of this promise then. So Abraham was being asked to believe that Salt Lake City in Portland, Oregon and the Teton County of Wyoming and Idaho, and all across Montana, and in our prison location in Deer Lodge, and on the Pendo tablets literally in tens of thousands of prison cells all across the country, and our church online family through our Spotify pulsating out on YouTube. And we are right now fulfilling a promise God gave, that God had all of this in his heart when he said, I will bless the whole world throughout space and time through you. But you've got to go, and you've got to go now. What's it going to be? Red pill? Blue pill? And Abraham said, I'm down. Abraham said, and Sarah said, let's go. And the level of trust he put in a God he just met is stunning.

And there's so much, of course, that we can only speculate about, what had been going on in his life? What had the restlessness, the divine discontent he had been feeling, or the nagging thoughts, even in his hot tub, even in his luxe palace, just the feeling of emptiness, the feeling of futility, that feeling that you have wrestled with. There's got to be more than this. What's going to happen to me after I die? These gods that I'm looking to, they don't seem to fill the hole inside my soul. So the day he met God, and God, with horrific bedside manner, just said, jump. Abraham's response was, how high? He was so quick to latch onto the maker of heaven and earth and to follow him, he didn't care what it cost him. So he obeyed instantly, and he dealt with all the confusion. I like how another translation puts it.

"By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God's call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left, he had no idea where he was going". And friends, this is faith. It's not what you want your faith to be like. This is what faith actually looks like. I heard one entrepreneur talk about starting your own company. Where are my entrepreneurs all across our church? Those of you who are currently entrepreneurs, or you have it in your heart to be one one day. Come on. Anybody with me? Let's give it up for the entrepreneurs. I am such a fan of your faith. I am such a fan of the faith that takes to start something, and to build something, something that wasn't there, and now it's there because you pioneered. I have such respect for pioneers. I have such respect for entrepreneurs.

In many ways, church planting is like that. It's the entrepreneurial sport of ministry. It's just blazing a trail and seeing something start. I always have felt that in my heart, that call to the wild blue yonder of risking the ocean, of stepping out in faith, of doing something stupid and believing God's going to bless it because he's so good. I really do. And I recognize that there's a level of gutsiness. There's a level of you need some Tums to deal with that kind of a life. That's why we say often on our team, it's not for everybody. There are plenty of people who would just love a nice, cozy, give me a blessing every Sunday, three points in a poem, and get the potluck invitations out. That's how some people want their church experience to be. Not me. I want to see us just slap the devil in the face a little bit. I want to go to blows. I want to fight for a generation. I want to do something that people go, that's impossible.

That shouldn't work on paper. It makes no sense. That's what I want my life to look like. And I just, I love that in the hearts and the drive of the entrepreneurs. How do you define such a thing? Well, I think it's pretty well defined by jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down. That's the best definition of being an entrepreneur I've ever found. And that's the best description I could find of Abraham's life. God said, jump. And he jumped off that cliff, and he began trying to strap on some wings on the way down. What is your threshold for confusion? To a large degree, the ability to be perplexed without panicking will determine what God can do through your life.

A lot of people are not very good at being uncomfortable, not very good at being perplexed, not very good at being confused. But that will always limit because we cannot have control and growth at the same time. For there to be that growth God wants there to be, there has to be confusion. There has to be a sense of what's going on? And we have to be willing to do what Abraham did and leave control back in Ur. If you want control, it's in the hot tub. If you want control, it's in your bougie palace. But if we are going to go live in tents and dwell as nomads, as wanderers, as sojourners, as pilgrims, you are never going to know what's going on. You are never going to know what I'm up to right now. All you're going to do is believe it's going to be worth it at the end of your life. All you can hold on to is that one day people will look back and go, wow, look at that. But in the moment, he was just crazy Abe.

All of his neighbors, where you going? Don't know. How long are you going to be gone? Forever. What's that all about? Not quite positive, but God's good all the time. All the time, God is... good. And they're like, who's God? He's like, I just met him, actually. Trade that moon god in post haste, because there is a new sheriff in town. And he made everything. He made me. If you can have trust like that, the willingness to not have all the answers, but to go anyway... Risk and uncertainty have always been table stakes for participating in a move of God. This week in our, through the Bible in a year reading plan, we read 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13. And we read about this dude named Obed-Edom, the Gittite.

And I was just marveling at how good God is, that he'll bless you even if you have a little bit of faith. This cat, he said God could park his RV on his property for a season. And God's so good he blessed him for that. I mean, that cost him nothing. The Ark of the Covenant, it sort of killed somebody accidentally who touched it. And so David was like, dude, once bitten, twice shy. We're going to leave that there for a while. Back away slowly. Where are we going to park it? And they're like, well, there's this dude's house, Obed-Edom, the Gittite. And they're like, can we park the God box on your lawn for a while? And he was like, yeah, sure. This isn't going to take up much room. So it's just a little bit of faith right. It doesn't take a lot of faith. It didn't cost him much. I mean, a little inconvenience to walk around it when he was going to his driveway. But the Bible says that the news reached the ears of the King that God had blessed Obed-Edom, the Gittite, for the little bit of faith it took to say yes.

So here's my question. What could happen if you go all in, when God is so good he'll bless you just for a little bit of faith, faith that doesn't cost you anything. So when you sacrifice, I'm just telling you, disproportionate. The greater your sense of, I'm going to trust you God, the greater you open yourself up for God to be able to bless you like he wants to. He looks to and fro on the earth. Let me bless you. Let me bless you. Let me bless you. And he's looking for someone who just gives him a little bit of space. And I'm telling you, the journey of faith is doing that, and getting addicted to that, and going back all in, reinventing your miracles again and again and again. I was listening to an interview this week with B.J. Novak, Ryan from The Office, the temp. Ryan started a fire. Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. He's also a writer on that show, was a director on that show, an executive producer on that show.

How you like them apples? Somebody who went to business school. And the question was asked, because he's, of course, super successful now, what advice would you give to young comics? What advice would you give to young writers? And I love what he said, and it applies to what we're talking about today. He said I would tell you to put all your long-term goals on the calendar before the short- term pain sets in. It's called burning the ships. It's called that half-marathon. I've paid for the bib, and it's on my calendar. And I told 100 people about it who are never going to let me back out of it. And I'm going to do that before I go on my first run. Because I'm going to feel so bad after my first run, I am never going to want to run again.

And if I didn't tell anybody and commit to it, I would have felt, well, that was a good idea. He says, you'll be able to beg off if there's not that big sense of commitment in the messy middle. And Abraham, God called him to not know all the details, to not have the ability to feel any of the pain before he went big and committed. And then he consistently trusted God, based on that big commitment for the rest of his life. Now, you're going, Levi, what did that look like? That looked like incredible amounts of setbacks and delays. And he had to endure multiple droughts, division even with his own people that as he grew, there was just like strife in the midst of it, all the normal things that happen. You have the big dream to launch that company and it scales. And now you're dealing with all these internal problems and HR issues and all of these things that come.

These are the real headaches of the dream. And you have to remind yourself often when you're dealing with all those difficulties, this is the dream. This is the reason. This is what I wanted. This is what I asked for. And so you ask, how did Abraham navigate all that? We don't have to ask because we are explicitly told. It was all in his head. Verse 10, Abraham did it. How did he do it? Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real eternal foundations, the city designed and built by God. He kept his eye on the prize, and so didn't get bogged down with the difficulties in the middle. The Hebrew or the... rather the Greek phrase "keeping his eye," refers to a steady and patient waiting even in disappointment. That's a good word. And that's a word for all of us, to keep our eye on the prize even in the midst of disappointment.

And the truth is you steer toward whatever you stare at, which is why it's so important to keep our eyes on the heavenly city, to keep our eyes on the prize, on God's calling for our life, and not just our own. This is something that all pioneers have in common. And, in fact, now, the writer of Hebrews 11 grabs Abel, who we already are done with, grabs Noah, and grabs Enoch, and says, it's the same with them as it was for Abraham. Look at verse 13. How did they all do it? They saw it off in the distance, God's promise, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in the world. This is so big. I'm going to take a moment here. It says, wherever God had pushed them to.

In Noah's case, it was this idea of the flood, but the Ark as a means of salvation. In Abel's case, it was to give an offering and to do so by faith, believing that God would send Jesus. In Enoch's case, it was the power and the benefit simply of just walking with God, of even naming his son prophetically, speaking of God's long suffering, until the day of the flood arrived. So for all of these things, whatever God gave them, whatever little glimpse of the calling on their life uniquely God gave them, they focused on it. They kept that in mind. They didn't let it get snowed under. They didn't let it become, oh, yeah, I remember then when I used to have all those feelings. They focused on God. They focused on their calling, so much so that they saw it off in the distance where they were headed to, and they waved at it. They embraced the destiny. They embraced the unseen city, they embraced heaven that is coming. They waved their greeting at it off in the distance.

And that phrase, of course, you're like, that's a unique phrase. It comes from the nautical days where seamen and sea women would travel, and they would see a far off coast they were heading to. And almost the first glimpse of home that were, they could see it in the distance. They weren't there yet to be able to touch it, but they could see it. And they kept that as their heading. And almost that sense of when they first could see people on the shore, they're so excited to be home, like, waving at it. Like, that's my home. Here's the thing that I kept thinking. You can't wave at what you're not facing. You steer towards whatever you stare at. And it's impossible to be waving at something, in fact, one linguist said that that word could be translated "hail with delight".

To hail with delight, like that feeling after a long trip when you're finally about to sleep in your own bed that night. And almost like out the window, you're like, ah, ha. Right? To hail it with, I'm going to see my babies again. I'm going to see my wife again. Like, that hailing, that sense of homesickness that causes you almost to leap out. Doesn't matter if the pilot hasn't turned off the unfasten your seat belt. Like, everyone waiting, they're like, ding, chaos, chaos. Hail it with delight. OK. So what's that as distinct from? That's as distinct from, verse 15, and truly, look at this. This is so big, and it explains a lot of the dysfunction you're so mad about right now, but you're complicit in. That's what you don't realize. A lot of the dysfunction you're frustrated about, you're complicit in it. Why? You're facing the wrong direction.

Let me show it to you. "Truly", verse 15, "if they had called to mind that country which they had come out of, they would have had opportunity to return". What did I tell you? It's all in your... If they had called to mind. And that's not just called to mind. That language means habitually remember, or unduly focus on. If Abraham had just wandered around intense, frustrated, not seeing proof of concept. God, you called me. Now, where are you? You said a great nation. It's just me and the misses, table for two again. If he had just been like, man, I had it so good in Ur. Remember the square footage in Ur? Remember how good it felt to have those jets on my back in the hot tub in Ur? Had they called it to, had that been what they were focused on, had their arm been reaching out towards it, like Lot's wife was looking towards Sodom, they would have gone back.

We would not be reading about Abraham's faith today. God would have picked somebody else. So a lot of us are complicit in our own suffering because we have identified some period of time that was like the glory days. And then we fantasized about how green the grass would be over there and if we could get there. And so we're not happy in the calling we're in because we're focused on something that God says is over, and I'm doing something new. So today, you need to start waving in the right direction. You need to start saying hello to God's promises and facing your future without fear, and not focused on, remember when we lived in, and remember what it was like over here? And remember how good it was?

And if you start to do that, you're going to start salivating for the leeks and onions of Egypt, instead of telling yourself the truth. We were slaves back then. And God got us out with a mighty hand, and he has something new for us in the land flowing with milk and honey. Come on. You can now be set free from this fixation to the former things. Because God's fixing to make the desert bloom like a rose, and you'll miss it if you're waving at what used to be. It's time for you to face your future. It's time for faith to move you forward, to grab a hold of your destiny, and to hail it with delight, even when you can't see it yet. Come on. Shout on that if you believe it's true. Whatever you're dealing with that's so hard right now, that's making you about to give up on your dream, close the doors, walk away from that calling, quit because it's challenging today, the droughts and the division, and Lot's doing his thing, and there's not a Starbucks here like there was an Ur, somebody else is facing that hardship and is thriving in it.

And whatever today you think if you had you'd be happy, someone else has it and is miserable in it. So it's not about what you face, it's how you think about what you face. It's about your mindset. It's about your perspective. It's about your focus. So what I want to do before I walk off this stage is give you five faith confessions that you can make, five statements over your life pulled from Abraham's journey that you can choose to use too because you are sons and daughters of Abraham. You have the right to call on the same God. All right. So five things to think about that's going to cause you to wave at your future and not reach for your past.

Number one, God called me. God called me. That's how I stand here on the stage. I'm not, I didn't, I'm not Levi the pastor by the will of man. Paul started his books to remind himself, just as much as the church he was writing to, I'm Paul, an apostle, by the will of God. God called me. So I can handle any hardship if God called me to it. Why would you, people are like, why don't you move to New York? Why don't you live in California? Surely, there's opportunities in bigger cities. That was a great thing. You kind of got your name out. God called me here. That's why I'm here. I'll stay here as long as God said to be here. When he says jump, how high? The answer is yes.

Now, God, what's the question? That's how we got, God called me. Speak that over your difficulties. And he didn't get stuck with you. He picked you. He knocked on the door at Ur. Said, ding dong, I'm God. Come on, let's go. If God called you, he'll be faithful to you. You have that in his word, 1 Thessalonians 5:24. "He who calls you his faithful, who will also do it". And if you ever doubt that, just look up at the stars. That was Abraham's trick. Whenever he got confused, whenever he got perplexed, he would just go outside and look up at the moon. He would look up at the stars. And he would remember the one who made them all. And he would go, man, you did a really good job with this world. Why am I doubting that you're going to take care of my frozen yogurt shop? You know what I'm saying? Like, whatever it is that you do that's going to make you feel like, oh, no, this can't work. God is faithful. He will do it.

Number two, my home is in heaven. I want you to remind yourself of that every single day because it will cause you to not lull into complacency and sleep and hold onto with your fingernails this life, the future city, the coming city, the kingdom of God. My home is in heaven. Philippians 3:20, "Our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ". Friends, language matters. How we speak matters. You've never heard me say my daughter passed away. She is not Yoda. She did not dissolve into particles into the ether. My daughter went to heaven, and that's where I'm going to go when I die.

Language matters. The Christian can view death like sleeping. It's temporary. And in the meantime, we have a belief in where they are and who they are with. And to the level we get that deep into our heads, it'll cause us to have a relaxed confidence in this life. Because when I die, I get to go home, not leave home. Death for the Christian is not leaving home. It's going home. Language is important, and my home is heaven. It will also keep us on mission here because we won't just try to be building the bigger barns to keep all of our stuff. God said to the dude living that way, you fool. Just all about big barns. You like big barns and you do not lie. God said, here's the truth. You're going to die. Then whose will all that stuff be that you lived for? Remind yourself every day, my home's heaven. I can enjoy all this. I can have nice things, but they can't have me. My heart belongs to the king.

Number three, confession of faith we're going to believe. This is the truth. It's all in our heads. Number three, I don't need to see in order to believe. If God said it, I can believe it. That can settle it. I don't need to see it. Like, well, I need to see some proof of concept. Abraham didn't say, show me some renderings of the promised land, and then I'll go. He just believed it because God spoke it. Faith is taking God at his word. And he not only believed for the kingdom of God, he also believed literally in Jesus is coming. Abraham did. Like, how did he know that? Jesus said so. John 8:56. You know, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad".

How did he see it not with the eye of the human anatomy, he saw it with the eye of faith. He believed it. He believed in Jesus's coming, and he was glad because of it. And if you're not glad today, maybe you're not believing because faith taps us into joy. I think it's astounding. Yeah, thank you. I'm preaching better than they're listening, right? The truth is in Abraham's lifetime, he never owned one piece of land except for the cave he bought for his wife to be buried in. It's the only real estate he ever owned. Now, today, yeah. Israel is a thing. And by the way, when God didn't tell them where they were going, it's not like God hadn't decided what was going to be the promised land yet. Like, oh, just come on. We'll figure it out on the way. No. God knew before the foundation of the world how he was going to do it.

He knew Abraham needed to not know, just like he needs for you to not know all the details right now about what he has planned. He just wants you to trust him. He wants you to live by faith. Without faith, it's impossible to please him. But when you even give him some Obed-Edom faith, the Gittite, he'll bless you. And then from there, it's that ratcheting step of grace to grace, glory to glory. Build yourself up on that most Holy faith. And then pretty soon, your base jumping, building an airplane on the way down. And today, of course, we all recognize him, but it was all posthumous. But he saw it anyway. He saw what he was participating in anyway. He didn't need to see results to keep trusting God. He's never asking God, what did you do for me lately? He continually trusted.

Number four, speak this over your truth, over your life, it's truth. I am being developed. I am being developed. The Jewish tradition looks at Abraham's life and boils it down to 10 tests he faced, the first being God saying get out. And the last being, of course, the most difficult that, the insurmountable faith, of course, it took for him to see Isaac offered up. But each of the tests he faced got harder and harder and harder, and it's for a reason. Warren Wiersbe said, and I love this, the tests of faith become more difficult as we walk with God, but the rewards become more wonderful, too. Satan tempts you to bring out the worst inside of you. God tests you to bring out the best inside of you. He knows you can handle it. And the word "test" in the Bible speaks of proving the strength of something.

So what you're facing right now is for God to prove what he put inside of you and to coax out a greater level of dependence than you even know is possible. So you can say over your life, I am being developed. When you're up against a wall, say this to yourself. Say, God has a plan, and I am being developed. He knows how he's going to work this all out. I don't need to. I just need to trust him, and I'm going to see it come to pass in the end. Jennie preached about the rock tumbler a while back. Its most annoying sound in our life right now. It's just constantly repetitively reminding me of what it takes to get shiny day after day after day after day after day after day to smooth things over. That's what we want, to be the shiny gem, and not just this rough stone, the diamond in the rough. But God knows it takes development for us to get stronger.

So rejoice in your trials. All right. Worst of all, last of all, this big moment, God says, you've been waiting for 25 years for a child. Now, I want you to offer him up to me as a living sacrifice. What do we speak over ourselves and over our future in the unimaginable things that we face? Here's how we're going to speak about it. Language matters, right? Here's how we're going to speak. That's not how this story ends. That's not how, come on. Who's encouraged today? That's not, cancer is not how your story ends. Depression is not how your story ends. Bankruptcy is not how your story ends. Divorce is not how your story ends. Come on. We can face the unimaginable, and we can believe over it that God can do the impossible because he's able.

Now, of course, I don't have time to get into it, but Abraham didn't bat an eye when God said, your boy needs to die. Because that was normal in Ur. All the gods demanded blood. All the gods wanted to be satisfied with human blood. So it wasn't weird to have an ancient deity ask for a human sacrifice. What was weird that God said stop. What was noteworthy that God said, no. I see that you're willing to. Like, you think I'm like all the other gods. That's normal for you. But I am not going to require you to do so because I'm going to offer mine. That's what sets, that sets apart our God from the moon god and from every other god, is that he says blood is required. Blood is required. Blood is required because the soul that sins shall surely die. But just before that payment's taken from your account, he says stop. I'm willing to give my son. I'm willing to give my son.

But how did Abraham have the guts, when Isaac was the linchpin to this entire thing we're talking about today, the Judaism, which would give birth to Christianity. All of what we're going to live in, the church age, all of it, he knew God was able. But if Isaac dies, and God said, not just one of your kids, but in Isaac, I'm going to, and Isaac didn't have kids yet. Now, had Isaac had kids, OK. The helmet can come off on the bike rides. But Isaac's got no kids yet. Protect the heir. Protect the heir. Protect the heir. Why is Abraham, if God said to, willing to plunge a knife through the breast of his son that is supposed to bring about great nations? Well, we're told that he concluded, he reasoned, or here we go, he thought within himself. It was all in his head. And here's how he thought about it.

Verse 19, "God is able to raise him up even from the dead". He conclude, there had never been a resurrection in human history at this point. But God said two things that were contradictory, or seemingly so. Number one, offer up your son to me. And the other thing is, oh, by the way, that son that is about to die is the only way that all this is going to happen. He had a choice like you have a choice. Do I believe what I thought was God's plan, who I thought God was? Or do I believe what I'm faced with right now? God help me to preach this like you showed it to me. Do I believe, I always trusted that God was good and formed me and all this, but now here's what's happening. So do I choose to believe what I'm experiencing and throw out who I thought God was? Or do I do what Abraham did and just trust God and let him sort it out, and believe even if it takes a miracle, he'll do the miracle, concluding, reasoning within himself.

The word is so strong. I find it in the New Testament and some very unique places, like Romans 8:18, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time". And that's a word that means weighing in a scale. Philippians 3:13, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do..". Count. Count. I don't count myself to have apprehended. Abraham did some figuring. He did some logicing. This is the best word I can actually use because the Greek word is... which is how we get our English word logic. Logically, if God said he's blessing me through Isaac, and now he says Isaac's dying, then I guess Isaac's going to come back from the dead. But either way, I'm going to follow God. I'm going to do what God says I'm supposed to do. He did not throw out his idea of what God should act like. He trusted God no matter what and continued to follow God. And so the question God wanted me to ask you is this.

Can your devotion be disappointed? Can your devotion handle being disappointed? When things don't go like you thought they would, can you keep worshipping him anyway? Abraham did by faith. And he was prolific in his faith, but he was also prolific in his love and prolific in his worship. I told you, a triple double. Let me show it to you. Verse 2, Genesis 22, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love". First use of the word "love" in the Bible, it's a father offering up a son as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, the technical name for where Jesus died. Tell me that's not the gospel before there was a gospel. And then verse 5, Abraham said to his young men, stay here with the donkey. The lad and I will go yonder, and you're going to do the hardest thing anyone could ever do.

How do you describe that as worship? Because that's what it is. I'm going to follow God, even if it's confusing. We will go worship. And notice what he says in faith, and we will come back to you. We're coming back. We're coming back. We're coming back. We're making it through this. We're going to see the future. We're going to see, we're going to see the descendants like stars in the sky and sand in the sea. He was faced in the right direction and so could handle all the difficulty and all the disappointment. I'm going to close with this.

When I was at the game, the Nuggets game, I remember seeing the refs get introduced. And was like, oh, I didn't know they did that. They don't show that on TV. The refs all got introduced. They put their pictures up. They came running out just like the players did. And I was like, wow, that's so crazy. The refs, like, and it caused me to really kind of go down a rabbit trail of how do you become like an NBA ref? And then I remember Kyle had sent me this article about how refs get picked. And it was a profile on this cat right here, who's a big time NBA ref. He's one of the 70 that do the big games. He is the first and only ref of Indian descent, so he broke that ceiling, a beautiful, beautiful story of how he got here. You know how it happened? He was he was reffing intramural games, $10 an hour. $10 an hour, nothing. No worry. Podunk. And someone said, hey, if you study and pass a certain exam, you can start doing high school reffing.

So he did it. He studied. He worked hard. Got to where he was making $70 an hour, high school ref. And, or $70 a game, rather. And so he was like, this is a big deal, big time. And he's just playing his little heart out. This is how he began. Look at the photo of him here. Talk about how it started to how it's going. This is him in the middle. And so he's just doing his absolute best. And one day finishes this basketball game. No one's in the crowd hardly, but a few moms and dads. And this guy, this mysterious guy, he had never seen before in a suit comes up to him after the game and goes, you've been identified. What are in? Men in Black? You've been, hands him a business card, he says, you've been, three words, he said, that changed my life, you've been identified. You've been identified.

Apparently, this guy was an NBA ref recruiter, travels the nation just go to podunk towns and watching basketball games and seeing who can play their heart out as a ref without the world watching. You've been identified. Series of tests, 100, 400 at the first level, then whittled down to 100, whittled down to 40. Then he was in the G League for a while. Seven years later from when he started reffing, he's getting introduced to sold out arenas and getting booed by 50% of the people. Yeah, it's a tough life. No matter what call he makes, someone's mad. But I just couldn't help but think about that. Because the refs say, the scouts say that what they're looking for, is they're looking for someone who will ref with integrity, positioning, stamina, and exceptional accuracy.

And so he was interviewed. They said, how did you know to work so hard? He goes, I don't know. I just always used to ref as if someone was watching me. I used to ref as if someone was watching me. Because you never know who's watching you. I just wanted to just speak over your life, God is watching you. God is watching you. God is watching you. He's looking for little faith, so he can bless it. He's looking for medium faith, so he can turn it into a bigger faith. God has got a plan. God has got this. And you need to get that stuck up right here in your head. Amen? Amen.

Father, we thank you. We love you. We trust you. And we believe, God, that you are good, even if we don't understand it. And God, if you never, and when your behavior contradict what we thought about who you were, how you should act, and we wouldn't even need a God because we would just be God. If you always do exactly what we think you should do, God, then we are our own God. But the reason, God, when we bump up against, why are you doing this, God?

Help it be a reminder to us that's why we have a God, who sees what we don't see, knows what we don't know, and controls what we can't control. Come on. If your faith has been stirred and touched, and you want to say I want to put my faith in a brand new way into God's hands, just raise up your hand. Raise up your hand. I want to trust God today. I want my faith to grow today. I want to see my challenge differently. I want to start facing my future, not mourning my past. Father bless these. Thank you. Strengthen them. Give them courage. You can put your hands down. As we're praying, heads bowed and eyes closed, Pastor Tim Keller who went to heaven while I was preparing this message, the day he died I happened to listen to a sermon of his where he told an illustration about being on the subway.

He said, if you were on the subway and someone picked your pocket, and you had a $500 sum of cash in your pocket that got taken, you'd be devastated, wouldn't you? Yeah. All of us would be. He said, but what if you had $5 billion in your bank account? He said, if you had $5 billion in your bank account, you wouldn't be happy that $500 got stolen, but it would change your perspective completely. He said, that's the Christian who has the promise of heaven. We can handle the $500 of challenges we face, so long as we have heaven to look forward to. And so I want to end by asking the question, do you have heaven to look forward to? If not, you can. Not because of what you do, but because of what Jesus has done.

Isaac didn't die that day. He didn't need to because Jesus was coming, and he would die. The father would not hold back his hand, but the knife would go straight into Jesus's breast. Blood and water poured from it when the spear pierced it. He did that for you. And if you trust Him today, you can have new life. So I'm going to ask, with every head bowed, every eye closed, if you realize today by the Holy Spirit's grace that you need to trust Jesus, that you would pray this prayer with me out loud, believing in your heart, confessing with your mouth, God is able to raise the dead. And he did, and he will. Say this. Church, say it with us:

Dear God. I know that I'm a sinner. I can't fix myself. But God, I believe you can. Please come into my heart. Make it your home. Help me to follow you. In Jesus' name.

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