January 20, 2023 7:05 am
Growing Deep in the Christian Life: Returning to Our Roots
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Loving God is a noble pursuit. We know it's the right thing to do, and we believe our affection for God brings perspective and depth to life. But what does it really mean to love God? When you strip away the Christian cliches and the predictable answers, how can we genuinely love God at a deeper level? Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues his topical series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. And during the next half hour, we'll hear Chuck identify several Bible passages that reinforce this truth. Loving God is our ultimate response. There aren't too many people who encourage us in our growth in Christ.
As a matter of fact, I find many more people somehow have a way of discouraging our walk and our responding to God in obedience. John Powell in his wonderful little book, Fully Human, Fully Alive, tells a wonderful story of what happened to one of his friends who was vacationing down in the Bahamas. If you'll allow me, I'll read part of that story. Upon investigation of the restless crowd gathered on the pier, my friend discovered that the object of all the attention was a young man making the last minute preparations for a solo journey around the world in a homemade boat. Without exception, everyone on the pier was pessimistic.
All were actively volunteering to tell the ambitious sailor all the things that could possibly go wrong. The sun will broil you, said one. You won't have enough food, said another. That boat of yours won't withstand the waves in a storm, and another.
You'll never make it. When my friend heard all these discouraging warnings to the adventurous young man, he felt an irresistible desire to offer some optimism and encouragement. As the little craft began drifting away from the pier toward the horizon, my friend went to the end of the pier.
Waving both arms wildly like semaphores, spelling confidence, he kept shouting, bon voyage, bon voyage. You're really something. We're with you.
We're proud of you. Can't you picture that? Everybody on the pier saying, you'll never make it.
Your boat will never make it. And here's this one fellow standing there waving his arms saying, go for it. You can do it. We believe in you. That is a wonderful illustration of people on this earth. And you and I are in the little boat. And that little boat has put out to sea. And it is on its journey toward knowing God and responding to God in obedience.
Have you noticed how few there are who stand on that pier as we push out into the sea, saying, good for you. Go for it. You can make it. That's the right way to go. God be with you. I feel like this day is spent doing that. And I'm glad.
I'm glad to be one of those people standing on the pier cheering you on because I believe in your journey. And I believe if you have chosen to know God fully and to walk with him obediently, and as we shall see in these few minutes we're together, love him consistently, he will honor that decision. Tucked away in the fifth book of the Bible is a wonderful statement and a wonderful command. I want you to see both statement and command together in Deuteronomy 6 verses 4 and 5.
The command is preceded by the statement. Let's look therefore first at the statement which talks about knowing God and then let's observe the command which addresses the importance of loving God. Deuteronomy 6 for Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. You can't see it in the English but in the Hebrew that word one conveys the idea of one in multiple. As you would say cluster or group.
Ekad is the word and it's the idea of one as in a cluster of grapes. Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one. One in father, one in son, one in spirit. Hear O Israel and come to know him as your only God. Walk only with him. The next verse and you shall love, this is now a command, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. How important was this?
Keep reading. These words which I'm commanding you today shall be on your heart but don't stop there. Don't just leave them on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way when you lie down and when you rise up you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead and you shall write them if you can believe this you shall write these words on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. I would say God is serious about that. This is something I want you to put on your heart men and women and then as God brings of children into your family these are the things I want you to teach them not simply as a as an intellectual catechism kind of teaching but I want it to be in the warp and woof of life. I want it to take place when you lie down and when you get up when you walk when you take your rest when you play when you work. I want it to be your lifestyle. In other words I want you to model knowing me and loving me with all your heart with all your soul with all your might and I want your children to capture that so that they will have that impression when you're gone. Every once in a while my wife and I talk about how life will be in our family when one or the other or both of us is gone. I'm sure you who are parents have talked the same. Cynthia and I are in agreement we are in great hopes that our children will have learned by our model that there is nothing more important to their mother and dad than knowing God and loving him with all their heart and soul and might if they will have gotten that whether they walk in it or not if they will have gotten that impression we will have done our job we will have done it. You see children don't automatically know to know God and to love him they need it modeled. How important was it for these people oh you've got to know the history just a little brief history lesson they're right on the verge of the land of Canaan the land that flows with milk and honey the promised land but what you don't remember probably is that it's crawling with idolaters there is an idolatrous mentality permeating the place where they will live and it's just in front of them Moses will die he won't go into the land and these people have only words the words of Moses ringing in their ears when they conquer the land and take over Canaan and begin to rear their family in homes they didn't build eating from vineyards they didn't plant drinking from cisterns they didn't dig it'll sort of be instant affluence and Moses is concerned that those people will move into the land and the impact of affluence will diminish their love for God so he says put this on the doorpost of your house write it on your hands make it the mark of your life that you are people who know and love your God as a matter of fact verse 24 gives us the people's response he brought us out from there in order to bring us in he brought us out of Egypt to bring us into Canaan to give us the land which he has sworn to our fathers so the Lord commanded us watch this to observe all these statutes to fear the Lord our God for our good and for our survival I've underlined those last two prepositional phrases in red for our good for our survival for our good for our survival I don't know how many people live under the false impression that when God makes a command he's trying to take away our fun on the contrary when God gives us a command it's for our good and it's often for our survival if you want to do what is good and if you want to do what will help you survive then know God and love him with all your heart and soul and mind now you'll observe in my previous message I didn't give you six steps on how to know God that was on purpose it isn't like that it isn't a mechanical step-by-step process it's a lifetime pursuit what it really requires is a day by day commitment in one's head that says today I'm going to know God better today I'm going to love God more I'm going to make this a regular major pursuit of my life and piece by piece little by little day by day it will begin to permeate your whole frame of reference that's frame of reference that's what Moses wants for them and that's what God wants for us now we're going to leave Deuteronomy and we're going to spend the rest of our time let's see 400 years later during the reign of David turn to the Psalms Psalm number 31 Deuteronomy looked ahead the Psalms looked back. Moses anticipated and then David responded by recording a number of events that took place and he put them in the the music of that day called the Psalter or the Psalms now for a few minutes I want us just to sort of graze through several Psalms and I will want you to see God at work as he for the people's good and for their survival came to their rescue and then I want us to focus on the man himself David and I want us to see him in in personal situations where God brought him through and how he responded in love to God and I hope in these few moments we're going to have in the Psalms you will have your appetite wedded to trust God as you've never trusted him before what will stand out in all of these Psalms is that in every case the people had no other one to lean on but God they had no bank account they had no armory they had no arsenal they had no flag to fly they had no defense all they had was God and the psalmist talks about how he came through again and again and again they had no other substitute and therefore they trusted in their God now Psalm 31 is the place to start look at the protection of God in the first four verses in thee oh Lord I have taken refuge let me never be ashamed in thy righteousness deliver me incline thine ear to me rescue me quickly be thou to me a rock of strength a stronghold to save me for thou art my rock and thou art my fortress for thy namesake thou will lead me and guide me thou will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me for thou art my strength notice there is there is no other there is no other strength there is no other source of encouragement there is no other protection only the Lord and the writer says it's you Lord I turn to I drop down to verse 9 same Psalm be gracious to me oh Lord for I am in distress my eye is wasted away from grief and my soul and my body also for my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sign my strength has failed because of iniquity and my body has wasted away because of all my adversaries I've become a reproach ever had this happen ever had this experience just read on and you'll feel it with him I become a reproach especially to my neighbors and an object of dread to my acquaintances those who see me in the street go to the other side they flee from me I'm forgotten as a dead man out of mine I'm like a broken vessel I have heard the slander of many terror is on every side while they took counsel together against me they scheme to take away my life look at the man Lord I am at your mercy I have no defense I'm outnumbered I'm surrounded and in myself I'm intimidated oh God but the point is I know you I trust you to get me through this the next two verses as for me I trust in thee oh Lord I say thou art my God my times are in thy hand deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me haven't you experienced in your life holding on to things gripping things keeping them near protecting them not wanting God to take them important things to you things you've leaned on for strength almost as if they were idols and piece by piece little by little the Lord pried your fingers loose and you had to let go I love how Corrie ten boom used to put it she said I've learned to hold everything loosely because it hurts when God pries my fingers and takes them from me the poet wrote one by one God took them from me all the things I valued most till I was empty-handed every glittering toy was lost and I walked earth's highways grieving in my rags and poverty until I heard his voice inviting lift those empty hands to me and I turned my hands toward heaven and he filled him with a store of his own transcendent riches till they could contain no more and at last I comprehended with my stupid mind and dull that God could not pour his riches into hands already full let it go trust him love him come to know that he's trustworthy he won't hang you out to dry let them slander let them say those things against you he knows you have integrity release release your defense trust him that's the message of this psalm no substitutes no other refuge no other source but the living God another one is psalm 37 and who doesn't have psalm 37 is one of their favorites look at the inner strength the peace that he alone gives verses 1 to 11 fret not yourself because of evildoers be not envious toward wrongdoers for they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb ever find yourself envious of the evildoers isn't amazing how those who do wrong get away with it and you and I who do right we can't even get away with taking a dime out of the phone booth isn't it amazing somehow God zaps you you have to go back and put the dime back in the slot because you can't live with yourself trust in the Lord and do good dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness delight yourself where in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart commit your way to the Lord and what he a trust also in him he will do it he will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday rest in the Lord wait patiently for him fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way because of the man who carries out wicked schemes cease from anger forsake wrath you see he knows us so well when you begin to fret yourself because of one who prospers in wickedness when you begin to do that then you begin to get angry and your anger turns to wrath and your wrath begins to consume you so he says again fret not yourself it only leads to evil doing that's this that's this license plate i don't get mad i get even you seen that license plate i'm seeing more and more of those license plates they scare me i get even this guy's in a big car he's driving fast he's getting driving fast he's getting even the psalmist says don't get even don't even fret yourself with a plan to get even god never tried to get even lay down your arms verse 9 evildoers will be cut off but those who wait for the Lord will inherit the land verse 35 i've seen a violent wicked man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil can't you picture it i've seen this big hulk of a man evil in his ways and as it were blood dripping from his fingers doing wrong doing wrong growing larger more powerful more intimidating and what happened to him next verse then he passed away oh he was no more i saw it for him but he could not be found mark the blameless man and behold the upright for the man of peace will have a posterity austerity i think my words are falling on ears that are understanding what i'm saying you don't walk very long or very close to god before you become the face on someone's dartboard the object of someone's resistance and even wrath even though you really did no wrong to that person for all the right reasons and the purest of motives you did what you did and you have been misunderstood that's a very tender place to be your knowledge of god and your love for god will be on display in how you respond to his or her treatment just another there are so many but first four verses psalm 46 is one i i can't dodge 46 god is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble my favorite word is present very present help right now therefore we will not fear though the earth should change though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea is that relevant or what though the waters roar and foam though the mountains quake at its swelling pride psila pause let that sink in pause drink that in drink what in that god is my refuge god is my refuge god is my strength a very present help in trouble perhaps right now you're facing a troubling situation that's causing you to fear in these moments let's remember that god is our refuge he is our strength a very present help in trouble there's more on this topic that chuck swindoll plans to address on the next edition of insight for living he's talking about loving god our ultimate response to learn more about this ministry visit us online at insight world.org as your next step i'd like to tell you about a brand new resource that will challenge your outlook as well it's a brief book by chuck swindoll called life is 10 what happens to you and 90 how you react if you're a long time listener to insight for living that title might sound familiar to you that's because it's one of the most highly quoted statements that chuck has ever made some have even placed that statement in a frame while the quote is original with chuck the wisdom is not it's rooted in scripture and described in his new seven chapter book he's written on topics such as freeing yourself from drama and overcoming envy another one is called how to have a joyful and prosperous life to purchase a copy go to insight.org store or you can call us if you're listening in the united states call 800-772-8888 let me remind you that chuck's teaching on your radio station is made possible in part by those who give generously and we're also grateful to our station partners who provide a platform each day it's a collaborative effort between insight for living ministries your radio station and the people in our listening family who faithfully support us as we walk through this season together our focus on god's word will not change in fact we're declaring this to be a time in which we're fully engaged in bible study together as god leads you to give and support this worthy effort we invite your financial partnership so call us today if you're listening in the united states call 800-772-8888 or go online to insight.org donate treat yourself to a vacation you'll never forget on the inside for living ministries cruise to the great frontier with chuck swindoll honestly i i had no idea that a cruise to alaska could be so much fun and without a doubt the stunning views took my breath away god's artistic genius is on full display in alaska in fact i guarantee this you'll come home refreshed and filled with awe for his majestic creation yeah at one point our ship was getting chased by dolphins they were playing and spinning in the waves it was amazing you'll have plenty of time for adventures on shore lingering conversations around mealtime and strolling through the idyllic ports of call you'll be a part of some of the best parts of our day laughing singing and celebrating our god plan to come with us won't you the dates are july 1st through july 8th 2023 to learn more call 1-888-447-0444 that's 1-888-447-0444 or visit insight.org events the tour to alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend i'm bill meyer inviting you to join us next time when chuck swindoll continues his message about loving god our ultimate response right here on insight for living the preceding message loving god our ultimate response was copyrighted in 1985 1986 1987 2005 and 2011 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by charles parswind all ink all rights are reserved worldwide duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited
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