2/24/19 “Can you Handle it?”

The message this morning is titled “Can You Handle It?” And as you can see in the bottom right-hand corner, we are in a series entitled “The Bible Doesn’t Say That.” Have you ever heard people say things to which you said, “Hmm, not sure if that’s in there”? God helps those who help themselves.  Judge not—don’t be judging people. I mean, that’s the big thing now when you talk about sin in our nation; people say, “Who are you to judge? You can’t judge. The Bible says, ‘Judge not.’” It does, but read the context. You can actually judge as soon as you humble yourself, remove the plank from your eye, and now you can better assess the speck that’s in your brother’s eye. We are called to judge. And last week I spoke about that, so as you’re leaving, grab last week’s message on CD or you can watch it online.

This week the topic is a long one, so I had to shorten up the title. Here’s what is not in the Bible: God will never, never, never give you more than you can handle. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s not true. He often gives us more than we can handle on a regular basis. Now I know what people are saying; it just sometimes doesn’t come across right. God will never give you more than you can handle based on what He’s called you to do. By the work of the Holy Spirit in your life you can accomplish whatever God’s called you to do. But the problem with this type of statement is many times we put the strength back on us: I can handle it. Have you ever caught yourself saying that? I don’t need to go to counseling, or I don’t need to go to the church. I can handle it. And we often feel like Popeye: “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.” I can’t handle it anymore.

Come on, let’s be honest, church. How many of us have said that? Every time we have a baby, I say that the first few months. “I can’t handle this anymore.” So does my wife, of course. “Okay, let me watch the baby. You go, go take a break.” In more serious issues, there are people who get to a point where they say, “I can’t handle this anymore. I can’t deal with it. I’m done.” Ringing true? But God will not give us more than we can handle, so they say. But Paul, we find, in 2 Corinthians 1 said that he and his companions were so utterly burdened beyond their strength that they despaired of life itself. They felt that they had received the sentence of death.

Here’s why this is a big deal. The American gospel is not the true gospel. The American gospel goes something like this: You’ll be healthy and wealthy, and God’s will [for you] will be full of joy, and there won’t be any challenges. As long as you’re walking in God’s will, you’ll be free of obstacles. It’s your best life now. It’s wonderful. But the Bible paints a different picture—of dying to self, of carrying your cross, of possibly being persecuted, of being forsaken. Our hope is not in man, our hope is not in the 2020 election; our hope is in Christ, that relationship. So even Paul was burdened beyond measure. They wanted to die. They despaired of life itself. Have you ever been there?

So that’s the big flaw of the statement. God will never give you more than you can handle, meaning it focuses on inner strength, inner fortitude, inner character, inner self-control, willpower. And all those things are good, but we can’t forget Psalm 121: “Where does my help come from?” Where does my help come from? My help comes from me. Is that what it says? No, even those of you who don’t read the Bible much know it doesn’t say that. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. And actually, the context is in battle. They’re surrounded by armies, and he says, “I look to the mountains, I look to the hills, where armies used to come, you see the cavalry. I look to the hills, and I see there’s where my help comes from. My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. That’s who’s going to handle this weight.  That’s who’s going to hold me up. He will be the one I look to.”

So that’s why there’s a flaw in that system of thought, that “I can handle it.” And the verse that is often used to support this idea is 1 Corinthians 10:13. You know it, but let me read it.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure [bear, handle] it.”

There’s truth in that. No temptation. But this is talking about a temptation. So as a believer, be encouraged. Nothing that comes against you, temptation wise, is so strong that you can’t say one little word. Let’s try that again. One little word: No. No. That would be a good sermon—”No, no, no, no, no!” So as a believer, you can say no to temptation. You will bear it, and it will be difficult, but God makes the way of escape. But you can handle it; you can say no.

But what we’re talking about is something, I believe, deeper, bigger, stronger. Pain. Burden. Something where you just can’t handle it. You have teenagers at home. Parents say it, and what do the kids say? “I can’t handle this.” See, it works both ways. Or there’s a health issue, or there’s a pressing financial issue. Court issue. Anybody have court battles? There are some battles out there that we’re praying for, regarding removing kids from homes or sentences coming down, and there’s just “I can’t handle this, Lord. I’m going to crush.”

And isn’t it interesting that there’s a difference between exploding and imploding? When you implode, the pressure on the outside is what? Greater than the strength on the inside. So you implode. But the Bible talks about the strength inside of us. “Greater is He that is in you than he that’s in the world.” The strength inside of us should be strong enough to weather that storm, to hold against the onslaught of what’s pushing against us. So as long as what’s pushing against us is casting all your cares upon the Lord, you can get through it. It’s when we try to handle it ourselves that we run into trouble.

In this sermon I’m really talking about the biggies. For one person it might be a mental issue. Have you ever dealt with anxiety and depression? Most people say, “I’d rather deal with physical pain than emotional pain.” But then there are others dealing with tremendous physical issues or family dynamics or things that are happening that you say, “God, why? Why can’t You take this away? Why can’t You fix it?” Anyone ever said that before? “Lord, please take this away.” Or just me? Everybody in this room, even the balcony, you should be saying amen to this. “Lord, please take this away. Please take this away,” to those types of things that are hard to handle.

The reason we experience this is because, as most of you know, we live in a fallen world. We live in a fallen world where sin is running rampant, and if it wasn’t for the grace of God, we would all fall apart. God holds us together. He sustains us. So on one hand, I want to point us to Him, but on the other hand, I want to also encourage you that those thoughts you might be having, those thoughts that you say, “Where are those coming from? That’s wrong. What’s wrong with me?” Well, nothing. That’s called the Christian struggle. That’s called the old man inside of you still wanting to rule and reign. Or I believe, when the Bible talks about the fiery darts of the enemy, I believe he can send thoughts. I don’t know how exactly, but I know the enemy can harass us like he possibly harassed Paul. A messenger of Satan was given to Paul as a thorn in his flesh. That doesn’t sound very appealing. And we know that the demonic realm can oppress, and we know that sometimes Christians need that freedom, for that demonic realm to be lifted.

So, we have all of this coming against us; we live in a fallen world. Don’t beat yourself up thinking, Where are these thoughts coming from? I can’t believe I’m thinking like this. Why are my thoughts going in that direction? Welcome to the battle. Welcome to the struggle. But here’s encouraging thing: the pain, the burden, the challenge that many of you, I’m sure, are facing this morning has a purpose. Thank God it has a purpose. Romans 8:28 is where we can find that purpose, in the English Standard Version (ESV). I encouraged the first service, and I will encourage you, that we don’t use this verse flippantly. If somebody’s going through a very difficult challenge, just got bad news, just lost a loved one, don’t go quoting this with a big smile on your face. “Well, you know…” as they’re burying somebody they love, “you know that all things work together for good. This is great. This is good news.” No, let people process it. You can bring this up later, encouraging them.

But sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen. Just listen. We don’t have all the answers. I’ll tell you little bit more about it later, but I was asked about these school shootings—and something might come out later, so I can’t say too much about it now—but all these school shootings. Look at what’s going on. When I was growing up, I don’t even know if it happened. But it shows just how far we’ve drifted. Like, Well, what’s a pastor’s answer? What’s the church’s answer? You think I’m going to throw Romans 8:28 out there? I think sometimes it’s okay to say, “I don’t understand all this, but I know a God who does. It doesn’t make sense, but I know in the end it will all make sense.”

And we listen, and we try to comfort because quoting Scripture at someone (even I do it often, so I’m not coming against that) but isn’t always just the solution. Sometimes listening and waiting for that opportunity to share the Scripture, waiting for that moment that God opens that door because you can actually push people away from you. I remember there was a family, and it was so sad, I did a memorial for a one-year-old, right here, a few years ago. What do you say to that? I don’t even know if they were Christians. We talked about it. I was able to share about a relationship with Christ in my message, but what would I tell them? “Well, you know, all things work together for good for grieving parents.”

And please don’t misunderstand; I’m not minimizing Scripture. If you know me, you know I love Scripture. I quote it often. We use it. We love it. It’s the heartbeat of the Christian faith. But even the most seasoned among us need to use our words carefully. We need to listen, and when people are open, we need to minister to them at those points. So I would just encourage you to, really, when it comes to pain—somebody going through a divorce, “Well, all things work together…” I’ve heard instances of this. I know people are trying to encourage. That’s the point of it, but timing is key. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it, often. Timing is key.

But let’s read this because it will be helpful. You will need this verse. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve looked to this verse.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.

Now a couple things here we don’t want to pass up. “And we know that for those who love God.” Believers who love God, love His Word, love His will, God’s going to work everything out in the end. Have you ever seen God do things where you just look back a year or two later and go, “Unbelievable! How did that happen? How did He turn that into this? How did He take this brokenness—I was so broken twenty years ago, but from that brokenness now there’s a deep, abiding relationship, and now I’m filled with the power the Holy Spirit. I would never trade that in. I don’t want to go through it again—don’t get me wrong—but I would never have traded that in. How does He take this and turn it into something that is good?”

For those who are called according to His purpose. Here’s the imagery there: if you are a believer. It means you’ve repented of your sin, you know who Jesus Christ is, He saved you, He set you free, and you love God no matter what comes, come hell or high water—that’s where that saying kind of comes from, come hell or high water—I will trust in Him. He knows what’s best. I’m called according to His purpose. That’s where my help comes from.

To me, it’s very freeing, and you can rest in that. Do you want to rest in the stock market? You know this all can’t last, right? You’re going to rest in the housing market? Look what happened in 2008–2009. Do you know the biggest investment bankers in our nation had to be bailed out by the government? I don’t know where they got that money, and I don’t know if they paid it back. Baron Stearns, Merrill Lynch. What are we trusting in? When the dust settles, the only thing you can trust in is God’s sovereignty. God, You are sovereign. Hey, I just got notice; I lost my job this week. God, You are sovereign. We just found this out. God, You are sovereign.

So it says here: For those who love God all things work together for my comfort. Oh, wait. For those who love God all things work together for my convenience. All things work together to fit around my agenda, to fit around my plans, to fit around my happiness. But see, that’s where we get it wrong, isn’t it? Come on, you know this is exactly where we get it wrong. All things work together—well, I’m not happy. Isn’t it interesting that word happy comes from the word happenstance, meaning “what’s happening to me.” If good things are happening, I’m happy; and if bad things are happening, I’m sad, I’m depressed, I’m mad. My happiness is contingent upon what’s happening to me—but joy in the midst of suffering, joy in the midst of a health crisis, joy in the midst of a burden. Why? Because I’m trusting in You.

Now, it’s one thing to preach it; it’s another thing to live it, and you who have lived it know exactly what I’m talking about. You have to get up every day and say, “Lord, I’m just trusting in You.” And then what happens? Do you get fearful? Often you get joy-filled. To me, it’s so freeing because I don’t have to worry about this. God, it’s Your bill. It’s Your church. Lord, this is Your problem. If you’re walking according to His will. If you’ve been called according to His purposes, you can give Him those burdens. I read in a good book somewhere that you’re to cast all your cares upon Him. Bible scholars, you know where I found it. Cast all your cares upon Him, upon Christ, because He cares for you. So remember that: all things work together for good.

I’m going to spend a section here encouraging you to listen to the voice of pain. Listen to the voice of pain. Listen to this burden that you might be feeling, and ask God, “What is the purpose? Lord, what is the purpose?” And sometimes you might not hear an answer. So you know what the answer is? Lord, I’m going to trust You in this. I’ll let you know up front most people don’t say that. They become bitter. Most people who are angry at God—I know quite a few, and so do you—what are they angry at? How could God allow this? Why am I going through this? Why did He do that? Why did He do this? And that voice of pain can speak loudly and clearly if we listen. I don’t think there’s anything that can speak more loudly and clearly into our lives than this voice of pain or of a struggle or of a burden. That’s where that phrase comes from: I’m at my wit’s end. My wits. I can’t handle this anymore mentally. I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t know what else to do.

And God can speak through that. Here are a few different ways. God often uses this burden or that “I just can’t handle this” to redirect us. Do you know if you’re on the wrong path, and God wants to get your attention, He’s going to bring something or allow something to get you back on track? Because most people without that would just keep going. What do they say? “God must be okay with it. I’m being blessed. God must be happy. I’m not doing anything wrong. Look what God’s doing to me. He’s blessing me.” But often He can use pain to redirect.

So ask this question: Is this financial burden or this emotional problem or maybe a family dynamic or a health issue or a spiritual burden—are all these happening, are some of these things happening so God redirects us? I see so many people, I don’t even know how they get through life, with this burden, with what they’re handling. And a lot of times it’s self-created, self-inflicted. You just want to run up to them and grab them: Can’t you see it? Can’t you see that’s why you’re in this financial mess? That’s why God is allowing you to experience this. That’s why you’re in this emotional distraught or having this problem with your kids or these health issues or this spiritual burden. Can’t you see it?

I remember there was one gentleman, I won’t say when, I won’t say where, I won’t say anything, in case he’s listening. It was amazing because he would worship, [had a good] prayer life, but he felt a lot of things going on in his life that didn’t make sense. There was a disconnect. Long story short, about a year and a half ago, maybe two years ago now, he would share what’s going on. “I’m trying. There’s a disconnect with God, the Holy Spirit. I’m worshiping, holy hands are lifted.” And I said, “Well, my advice is you and your girlfriend need to move into separate places and stop doing (you fill in the blank).” Was he receptive? Not at all. Because then the excuses come. “Well, financially, we can’t make that work.” Oh well, good point. I guess God’s Word is irrelevant. I’ve seen God open amazing doors when you start to line your life up with Him. You could say, “Lord, this isn’t going to work financially, but I want to honor You,” and watch. He will clear a way.

Or, “Well, we’re just friends now.” Hmm. What about avoiding the appearance of evil? What about your own heart’s convicting you? What about what the leadership of the church tells you? It’s not a good direction. You’re going against all of that. Two years ago. Same issue still today.

A couple of us know exactly what he needs to do. Is he willing to do that? No. The reason I say that is because many of us carry this burden as if “This is my cross to carry; this is my burden.” No, it’s your sin that is causing that burden, and when God says to do something like that, do it, because He’ll often use pain or health issues to get our attention. And I think it did turn into health issues for this gentleman. It wasn’t initially. It was emotionally, spiritually disconnected from God, now I think there are health issues. I don’t know if it’s all connected. I’m not trying to make that connection either. Maybe I should put a big disclaimer there that any type of illness or challenge is not sin related. Of course not, or we’d all be in trouble. But to say that sin cannot produce this is not correct biblically either. God will often use consequences to get us back on track with Him, in His Word and in His will. To change or to challenge. Is God trying to change me? Is He trying to change you?

Think of a very mature older spiritual person that you know, who’s very full of God’s grace, and you look up to them. I have a few myself. You should ask them their resume sometime about pain, their pain resume, with challenges, with difficulties, because it’s a picture of clay on a potter’s wheel. Have you ever seen those wheels spin, and the potter begins to shape that clay? It’s not possible, but ask the clay how it feels. But if that were a person, how would that feel? So God often will use these things to change us. If you’re very prideful person, how’s God going to get rid of that? He will humble you. You’re bragging to all your friends about your money and your vehicles, and then you find out you lost your job. You married somebody: “This is my trophy spouse; look what I have.” You don’t treat them well, you take advantage, and that marriage begins to dissolve, and you get divorce papers in the mail. You’ve been humbled.

I’ve shared this before. It’s so humiliating. But in my twenties, I was making really good money, six figures; many of you know the story. I opened up 24-Hour fitness centers in town—Lancaster, Palmdale, and then I was given Victorville to oversee and Santa Clarita. I built a house in Court’s Hill at twenty-six years old. And with that comes arrogance. I know it’s hard to believe. Not too many twenty-year-olds are arrogant. Then God eventually began to remove these things and caused me to cry out to Him, and say, “God, what have I done?” Within the course of one month, I went from that to having to get rid of the house, eventually having to move back in with my mom, and I went to work for a construction company digging up septic tanks, where you dig down and you find the septic tank lid. Humbling? Are you kidding me? I’d have to look at people—“Shane, what are you doing now? What happened to you? You live with your mom? What happened to you?” Humbling and humbling and humbling and humbling and humbling and humbling.

It’s still a process. God will humble us, and He still does it even today. I shared a while back, I think a month ago, that we pray for our kids all the time—it’s a life of prayer here at this church—but my oldest daughter came up to me I think about a month, month and a half ago, and she said, “Dad, I see you praying with people all the time, but you never pray personally with me.” Humbling, humbling, humbling, humbling. God wants to change areas. He will humble us. “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God; in due time He will exalt you. You exalt yourself, and He will abase you.”

So is He trying to get your attention? I don’t know if this is the right word. The most discouraging thing for me to see in the life of Christian men is when God is trying to humble them, and they are fighting it. It’s pathetic. Embrace humility. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12—it’s a commentary. We can put it up on the screen, 2 Corinthians 12:7–10. I’m just going to read from the commentary. This is when Paul received such wonderful revelation from God, that God had to keep him from becoming proud. And that happens. Knowledge puffs up. You Bible scholars know this. You’d better be very careful. You sometimes think you’re the humblest; you’re the most arrogant. I’ve been there, done that, can slip right back in there. Why? Because knowledge puffs up. Knowledge, and especially if you have a powerful move of God in your life, and God’s just moving through you, and you have this revelation of who God is, and you’re filled with the spirit of God, you’re doing things for God. Be careful.

We believe Paul was taken up to heaven. He had this encounter with God, and it said “to keep him from becoming proud.” He said this: “I was given a thorn in my flesh a messenger from Satan to torment me.” Lord, I don’t want that. Why? To keep me from becoming proud. So he said here, “To keep me from pride, a thorn was given.” We don’t know what it is. It’s an irritant, it’s a challenge, it’s a difficulty. Personally, I believe that it could’ve been a demonic type of assault against Paul. A messenger of Satan is often used as that. Something in the demonic realm possibly harassed him. We don’t know. Planting thoughts into his life or harassing him somehow. And Paul said, like many of us, “Please take this away. Please take this away.” Three times he says it. “I begged the Lord.” Have you ever been there? Come on, you know those crocodile tears, and you’re just “Lord, take this away. Take this away. I can’t keep doing this. I can’t keep living like this. I can’t keep fighting this. Lord, take this away.”

Come on, most in this room know exactly what I’m talking about, especially if you fight addiction, any kind of addiction. That has been your prayer more than you can count. This is the honest sermon. They all are, but this is more of the transparent, right from the heart. That didn’t come out right. Let me reword that. Hmm. This is the— yeah, transparent, right? Let’s be real. “Three times I begged the Lord, ‘Take it away. Take it away. Take away this (you fill in the blank).” Take away this anxiety or this fear or this anger. I’ve had people back in that side room crying, “God, take away this anger. Take away these thoughts. Take away this pull. I’m doing so good.” Somebody will say, “I’m doing so good, and then my car just drives itself to the liquor store.” Or to the pharmacy. Or to the pot shop that’s now legal.

I love the people convicted about this, and they say, “But it’s for medicinal purposes.” It sure is. That’s like 1 percent of those hooked on it. Come on. Wake up. Absolutely there are medicinal reasons, but most people addicted and hurt by it are not using it for medicinal purposes. They’re doing it to alter their mind; it’s a mind-altering drug. Come on. Unless you just woke up out of a thirty-year sleep, we see it’s all around us. I can’t even go on a jog in my neighborhood going to the aqueduct, and I smell it. Do you really need that at seven thirty in the morning? And I will make comments: “I can smell it.” Golly, and I’m just walking for thirty feet, I can smell marijuana.

That was just a rabbit trail. But each time He said, “My grace is all you need.” I didn’t talk about this in the first service. Maybe this is for someone who is addicted to marijuana or anything else. There will be times where the struggle will seem absolutely impossible because what happens is your body chemistry becomes used to it. It will actually be dependent upon it. “I need that” whatever it is, because your dopamine level, serotonin, all these things, all the hormones are affected by this. Now your mind is relying on it. So not only do you have the temptation of relaxing, you have the body chemistry pulling you. It’s even a stronger pull than food, pulling you to this. So see it through. Bear that temptation, bear that burden, take it to Christ, and say, “God, I can’t do this in my weakness. God, I can’t do this. I feel it coming on. I’m not going to be able to do it. I don’t trust my willpower, but I trust You. I trust You, that You will see me through.”

So here’s what Paul said:

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.

Each time what did God tell him?

My grace is all you need.

Another translation would say, “My grace is sufficient.” It’s all you will ever need. Here’s the key:

My power works best in weakness.

Do you know what human weakness is?  It’s basically everything I just said. “God, I can’t handle this. I’m not all of that and who I thought I was.” And what do we do? We like to put on the front, especially Christians and Christian men. No, no, I’m fine. I’m good. I’m so strong inside.  No, you’re not. It’s when you can admit you’re weak.

I’ll tell you something. It’s not a secret; most of you know. But many times when I’m up here in the morning, and I’m praying, I tell God, “God, I am weak. I can’t preach Your Word with authority and pierce hearts unless You’re in it, unless You move upon me and move upon the Scriptures, Lord, and You take your Holy Spirit and You convict. Lord, I’m weak, I’m worried. I can’t do this.” If I were to come up here and try to just wing it, Lord, help us. And I mean it. I mean it. “Lord, I can’t do this.”

So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses.  

Anybody happy about that? We want to run from our weaknesses. We want to hide our weaknesses, especially as Christians. We want to come up and say, “I have no weaknesses. Look at that pastor. Oh, he must have no weaknesses, no challenges, no struggles.” No, that’s not here on earth. That’s in heaven. I like when people are transparent and open and say, “Hey, I’m struggling with this. Can you pray for me?” It’s when we try to act like we have it all together that concerns me, because often we’re trying to hide something.

So Paul says:

I am glad to boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

What happens is when I say, “Lord, I am weak. I can’t do this, but You can. You can handle this. You can work through me,” then God takes over.

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.

So I take pleasure in all these things. Why? Because Christ is working in me and through me. Even when you get insults. Do you get insults that often? Are you persecuted that much? If not, just start a church or open a Facebook page or Twitter and watch out. Persecuted for the name of Christ. Pains and burdens can push us toward God. Did you know that? Your pain, your burden, can push you toward God to rely upon God.

I’m going to give you some encouraging Scriptures, and then I’ll be done, but do not make this mistake with these Scriptures. Here’s what a lot of people do. They see a Scripture up there, they hear it, and they go, “Oh, I know what that says.” What we need to be doing is internalizing them again and meditating on them again and remembering them and actually taking hold and claiming them as a promise.

1 Peter 5:7 (these are all ESV):  Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.

Can you imagine if we meditate on that? Can you imagine if you put that on your computer, on your car dashboard? I’m casting all my anxieties on Him because He cares for me, for you. Let’s not forget that worry is a sin. Uh oh. No rotten apples coming at me. “But, Shane, we need to be concerned.” Yes, be concerned, be vigilant, on things you can make a difference in, but worry is worrying about things we have no control over. And, really, it goes back to not trusting God.

If I have anxiety over what’s going to happen, “Lord, I’m worrying about this,” that is sin because I’m not trusting in God. He says, “Cast all your cares upon me.”

Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them.

Who’s them? Your enemy. Anybody have any enemies? No? Okay, plant a church, open a Facebook page, right? You do. You know what I’m talking about, especially if you’re vocal about your faith. If you’re somewhat vocal about your faith, you have enemies. True faith. Not the faith that says God’s everywhere, God is love, all religions are going the same direction. You won’t get persecuted.

Do not fear or be in dread of [your enemies], for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

Psalm 34:18:  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Listen, if you’re not brokenhearted, if you’re not crushed in spirit, that’s only when you can truly know God. He looks for that. He hates the proud and the arrogant. Hates them? Come on, Shane, that’s really strong. Well, read Proverbs: “Six things the Lord hates; yea, seven are an abomination to him: a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, feet that are swift in running to evil, a heart that devises wicked plans, someone who sows discord among the brethren.” And guess what is at the top of that list? He said, “I, the Lord God, I hate a proud look. I hate the look of pride.”

So if you want to come to Christ, you need to be broken this morning. He saves those who are broken. He saves those who are crushed in spirit. Basically that’s a person who says, “God, I failed. God, I failed. I’m not who I thought I was. I’ve been so arrogant. I’ve been so prideful. God, I’m broken over my sin. Would You save me?” He’s never going, “Ah, let Me consider it. Let Me think about it.” It’s almost like that’s a magnet to the Holy Spirit of God. Do you know there’s a prayer God always hears? Always hears. “Those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Not might, not He’ll consider it, not once you follow this checklist. So all a person has to do is say, “God, I’m calling upon the name of the Lord. I want to be saved.” That’s a broken and contrite spirit that sees their need for a Savior. He runs to that person.

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

You can’t go pitch for the Dodgers. He’s not talking about that, because if I could do that, I would. He says what? You can do all things, everything that God has called you to do, He will strengthen you. Brant, who leads worship, if he says, “God, you’ve called me to do this. I don’t feel like it. I don’t feel it.” Like I say on Sunday mornings sometimes: “I can’t do this unless You move.” But those who call upon the name of the Lord, and they are saved, they are sanctified. If God’s calling them to do something, He will strengthen them. He will strengthen them. You don’t have to strengthen yourself.  Actually, what I found is when I humble myself, He strengthens me. When I try to strengthen myself, I fall on my face. So whatever God has called you to do.

Do you need God to strengthen you as a parent? I don’t know about you, but I sure do. I was planning on grandchildren at my age, not a baby. I need strength. Some of you won’t get that. That’s okay. But I do. I’m just being honest. I need strength. Anxieties come in, fears come in, worries come in. Let’s be honest. Let’s be transparent. I mean, on that topic I’ve been struggling a lot. Walk my daughter down the aisle to get married, and I’ll be seventy-five? I mean, it’s funny for you guys; it’s not funny for me. But see, these are normal fears. These are normal things that God’s dealing with. I’ll be fifty this year. Most people don’t think that, but I feel it. No, don’t clap.

But see, now, you know that as you get older, new fears come in. What I worried about at twenty is nothing compared to now. But that’s sin. Worry is sin. To trust God. God knows best. And I thank God I didn’t have kids in my younger years because I might’ve destroyed them when it was all about me and the party lifestyle. So on one hand, I’m very thankful, but on the other hand, I’ve got concerns that I take to God. That’s one reason why I try stay healthy, by the way. Wow, five kids at home thirteen and under. You have to have a lot of energy. I’m just telling you right now. And those iPads and YouTube’s and computers are a constant challenge.

There’s actually something—this is a whole side note, but this might help for some of you as parents. There’s something we bought for Christmas lights out front. I put lights up out front. Just white. Don’t worry, I know where pagan holidays came from. I don’t need lectures on Christmas. But there’s a switch, a button you can push, that just turns the lights on and off. Actually, I like doing it because I’m spending time with my kids, and we make it a full family day. It’s incredible. So this little white thing, you can just turn on and off the lights because it hooks to your electrical outlet outside.

Well, I had a good idea. I’m going to hook that to my WiFi. Uh oh. Nothing’s working. I guess we’ll have to sit down and talk. We might have to color pictures and have a board game and have a discussion. You don’t believe me, but I’m hooking that up this week. It’s not working. It’s down for the evening. Hey, you’ve got to get extreme in these days. I’m telling you. People say, “Well, why don’t you just tell your kids no?” I will, and why don’t you? It’s a lot easier to click; it’s a lot easier for me to say, “It doesn’t work,”—click—than “No, no, no, no. I told you ten minutes ago. No, no, no, no, you can’t use it. No, no, no, no, no, I told you.” Or click. What’s easier?

But I’m also being serious because I think kids are getting way too distracted. I think we’re not spending quality time with them, and that’s why I’m going to make that change. I just see, at least in my own house, it’s an easy way out, isn’t it? It’s the new babysitter.

And Isaiah 26:3. Some of you need to hear this this morning. God will keep you. It says:

You keep him in perfect peace [which is complete peace] whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Can you imagine these five verses, reading these every day? In the morning, you get up, and you say, “Casting all my cares upon You, Lord, because You care for me. I’m going to be strong and courageous. I don’t fear what’s going on, Lord, because You will never leave me nor forsake me. Lord, You are near to the brokenhearted, and You will save those who are crushed in spirit. Lord, I can do all things because You strengthen me, and You will keep my mind in perfect peace. You will keep me on the right course because I trust in You.” Can you imagine meditating on those? Here’s what happens. That’s the only time some of you are going to hear the Word of God all week. Right now. You go home, and you put on the news and the media, and all this garbage is going on, and that’s what’s captivating your thought life. That’s what’s controlling you. That’s why you’re anxious and fearful because of all these outside influences, when God Word says, “Just trust in Me. Put your mind, fix your thoughts on things that are noble and honest and upright and of good report. Meditate on those things.”

If you want to be free of this area, not completely free, but if you want to minimize anxiety and fear and burdens and mental anguish, meditate on God’s Word. Put those five Scriptures—email, we can send those to you, or you can Google it. Just put them [in front of you.] Just remind yourself because your mind is changing. They used to think many years ago that the mind was static, meaning it wasn’t changing. The way it was is the way it is. No, I’ve told you before that there are studies now on neural plasticity, where the mind actually can be changed. Secular psychologists will use the words conformed or transformed. Oh, that’s interesting. The Bible says, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” So you can begin to renew your mind. As you renew your mind, old thought patterns drop off. As you renew your mind, you begin to get victory in certain areas you used to always be defeated in, if you begin to renew and refocus this wonderful gift that God has given us.

I’m going to end with this verse, and I’m not going to put it up on the screen. I want you to think about this. God’s talking to His children, and He said,

Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.

This is Isaiah 46. You can read it tonight.

I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. With whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared? Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it.

And every time I read that I think, how foolish. God reminds me how foolish. It’s still happening today. Idolatry is still happening today. Shane, we don’t have little things on our countertops, little gods, like Buddha. They do. No, but I don’t. No, it’s parked in your driveway. It’s affectionally known as an entertainment center. All I’m saying is be careful of whatever you look to to be your deliverer. Do you think the stock market is? I mean a lot of us are hoping for retirement. Do you think Social Security is going to be there? Healthcare? Let’s be honest. There’s nothing we can trust in. I heard somebody say they trust in something they have in the bank because it’s secured by the FDIC. Okay, well you’re trusting in the FDIC to insure the bank where your money is at. You might want to have a few more eggs in that basket because not even that’s reliable. Listen, often, when a nation’s economy crashes, the whole thing crashes. China calls in their debt? If China called in our debt to them, it would wipe out the economy. Shane, you’re trying to scare us. No, I’m just being honest, just being real. What are you trusting in?

Let me encourage you this morning. Recommit your life to God. Has idolatry pulled you away from God? Are you trusting in the wrong things? Is the media pulling you away from God, or the wrong friendships pulling you away from God? Is there idolatry? Something has put its place in front of my life that has become God in my life— that is idolatry. Idols. Idol worship. It’s putting anything in a place where God ought to be. Many people sacrifice their family on the idol of success. Many people don’t have time for God because of the idol of (you fill in the blank).

Many of you know (I won’t go into a lot of detail) but we opted out of sports this season, out of baseball, because it became too consuming—for us. I’m not saying that fits everybody. I’m just saying for us it became too much. Too much was compromised. Too much. At least for our life. So you have to look at what is in your individual life. If something becomes God to you and takes you away from church, takes you away from fellowship, takes time away from the Word of God. I know there are three men right now I’ve talked to, I’m praying for them, but their job has taken them away. They’re not in the Word much anymore. They can’t come to worship. They can’t come to church very much because of their job. What’s the answer often? Well, but five years from now, we’ll get a good little nest egg going. Listen, you can never get back those five years. See, we have to start thinking along those lines. Is there anything in my life that I’ve put in the place of where God needs to be?

And finally, I want to just throw out this invitation to you. I don’t know everyone in here, obviously, or those watching online, but do you truly know God? Do you truly have that relationship? If you’re going through life, and you can’t handle it anymore, you feel this burden of sin, you know you’re not right with God, then I want to encourage you this morning to repent and believe. Repent means what? Humble yourself and believe. In a nutshell, here’s what I had to say: “I am not God.” I thought I was. I thought I was the captain of my own ship. I was the dictator of my own life. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want. I’m God. And God said, “No, you are not. Humble yourself. Humble yourself.” And then you cry out to God, and you say, “God save me.”

The irony is that most people know when they are not right with God. That’s why they get so mad at what I’m saying. Have you ever watched Ray Comfort? I mentioned him earlier. Watch some of his videos on YouTube when he goes to the beach. He was there yesterday, on Saturday. He goes to the beach and just asks them: “Have you ever committed adultery?”

“Uh, no. But in my mind…”

“Have you ever stolen anything?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Have you ever done this?”

“Oh yeah.”

“By your own admission, you’re a thieving, adulterer, fornicator, blasphemer in your heart.”

And they realize, yeah, I am. When you look at God’s perfect law. See, but pride doesn’t like to be challenged. Pride likes to be coddled. It’s cute on a baby; it’s terrible on a thirty-year-old. Coddled in their pride and arrogance.

So I just want to encourage you. I’m not coming here beating up anybody or being angry. I’m passionate. Don’t let the enemy deceive you and think that religion is for women. Religion, crutches for weak people. I love when people get mad and they tell me, “He’s a crutch for you.” No, it’s a whole hospital. A crutch? Are you kidding me? A crutch? It’s the NICU. It’s the ICU. It’s the emergency room. It’s everything. God, You’re everything. Run to Christ. Run to the cross. That’s why the Bible says, “Run. Today, if you hear My voice, harden not your heart.” In the book of Hebrews, three times, “If you hear My voice, harden not your heart. If you hear My voice, harden not your heart.” Today is the day of salvation. Man is not guaranteed tomorrow. Only a fool says in his heart, “I will build these great vineyards and these barns, and I will live this joy-filled life for the next forty years on my things, and God says, “You fool! Tonight your soul is required of you.” This is serious, guys. There’s nothing more serious than this.