Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Chip Lusko: Hello everybody. Good to see you all. A lot of familiar faces here and as always it's an honor to be asked to speak here. This is one of the great Bible teaching pulpits in the world, and it's a privilege to be asked to fill it. [applause] A few weeks ago I was driving around Whitefish, Montana. It doesn't take long to drive around Whitefish, Montana, but I came across a---literally a city block, almost, that was excavated, just like a huge hole in the ground, which is unusual for that area of that level of construction. And I asked somebody about it and they said, "Oh, they're building a Boutique Hotel." And it just struck me how deep they had gone, how they just literally moved all the earth for a whole city block. I know eventually there'll be a gleaming, trendy, Boutique Hotel in that spot, but right now it looked like a blast zone.
And it reminded me of my life, because that's how, I think, we feel sometimes when we're under construction. And we all live here in the land of orange barrels. It's not what it was in the nineties, but it's still the state something. And God has promised to complete the work he began in us, but that takes patience and it certainly takes time. And I think about that hotel in Montana and somebody has a vision for that hotel. And somewhere there's an architectural rendering. It's all gleaming and shiny and he's got people and shrubs and everything. But you would never know it now, would you? All you see is this hole in the ground. And I want to speak to people here tonight who maybe feel like a blast zone, feel like their life is just collateral, collateral damage.
And perhaps you've lost the vision for what the abundant Christian life can be, lost the grasp of a notion of the victorious Christian life. I just want to reassure you tonight, God hasn't torn up the drawings of your life. They still exist. And so I'm just going to ask you as we begin our study tonight to consider, to release the things in your life that are toxic, to let go of things that are poisonous, to just free yourself of the contaminants that we allow into our life in thought, in word, in deed, in spirits of bitterness, in vicious thought cycles that endlessly loop through our minds and taunt us and haunt us and torture us. And I want you to know God wants to reach down and touch you tonight. Now, very often it's our tradition when we pray to bow our head and clasp our hands. And that's a tradition of honoring God. I understand that.
It's an act of sacredness. But, as a matter of fact, that's really not in the Bible. There's no instance really of that. What it does say over a hundred times is "Lift up your head," "Lift up your face to the heavens," "Lift up your eyes to the hills from whence cometh your help." And I think some of us need to lift up our heads tonight. Nothing wrong with looking down and closing your eyes. But I think down there is the earth and things that are worldly; up there is our help, our hope, our only source of real rescue. So the first step, if you need a touch from God tonight, is to stand up, to stand up. If you want to be touched by God, as we begin our teaching tonight, just stand up. And then I'm going to ask you to reach up, because the Bible says, "God is not far from us. He will reach up. He will draw near to him if you draw near---he draws near to us.
And then, finally, I want you to look up as we pray together now. Lord Jesus, you are our only hope. You're our only source of help. We reach out symbolically our hands to you right now, Lord, because you've promised to draw near to those who draw near to you. And we reach up to you, Lord, with our face because you are our only possible rescue and we need your touch. We need you to just open our hearts, God, and let us not play charades tonight, but open your Word and let spiritual surgery take place as only your Holy Spirit can do. We give him complete freedom in our life, Lord. We cooperate with whatever mission you have, whatever task you want to perform, that we might leave here as transformed people of a living, loving God, in Jesus' name, amen.
Have a seat. Romans 8 will be our text tonight. We'll be roaming around Romans in verse 18, verse 18. And we find there the fabulous Scripture, "That I consider the sufferings of this present time," Paul wrote, "are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Now then, if I were to ask you: What is the highlight of your life to this point? If I were to say: What is the peak, what is the pinnacle experience you've had? What would it be? Perhaps it might be a wedding. It might be an era. It might be a time of athletic accomplishment or educational ability. It might be your college years before the big chill when reality dawned. It might be something that is private, that you accomplished an interior goal and you're satisfied with that.
But what is the highlight of your life to date? And I would say whatever it is, however magnificent it might be, it pales in comparison with what's coming for the child of God. I don't think we can spend enough time analyzing, examining, and as Paul says here, comparing, he's considering the things that lie ahead for the son or daughter of God. Now Paul uses one of my favorite Greek words there in verse 18. You might have "consider" in the New King James, but the Authorized Version says, "I reckon." "I reckon." And I've got a Southern friend who's proficient in Greek and he ruined me on this word forever. He calls it, it's logizomai. So you gotta kind of say it with a Southern drawl. He's from Mississippi. Logizomai, it means to compute. It means to calculate. It means to consider.
It means to run through almost a computer program analyzing a set of data and coming to a conclusion. Paul says, as we go through the key words in this marvelous passage, "I consider," and that's our first word. He considers these sufferings. So to compute and conclude an operating system to come to a correct conclusion, it must have correct data. It must have proper information. When you put bad information in, you'll get bad information out. I don't care what the hardware or the software is or how good the operating system is, if the data is faulty, so will the conclusion be. And many people have reached the wrong conclusions about life and death, and their existence on earth reveals that. You see what they're going through.
You see what their subjecting themselves and their immediately family to because they have come to the wrong conclusions based on a faulty set of information. And nothing could be more powerful or important to have the proper information about than life and death, life and death. We---look, we cannot afford to get this one wrong. You can get a lot of things wrong in your life---wrong employment, wrong school, wrong side of the tracks---but you can't get life and death wrong. That's like the big one, so we need to get it right. And so what was the first lie recorded in the Bible? Very simple: "You shall not surely die." First lie Satan ever told. And that's because he wants to pollute the thought processes of the whole human race about this crucial, pivotal subject of death, what happens afterwards, and how to avoid the negative consequences of it.
And many people are wandering around with some amazingly thin thinking on such is a vital subject. Some people say, "Oh, we'll just have to wait and see." That's a bad strategy. Or some will say, "We really can't know, now can we?" That's an extraordinarily bad strategy. In fact, just the other day I was overhearing a conversation at a table near me, and they got my attention when one woman said, "The Devil's afraid of me." Huh? Whoa! What could she follow that up with? And then she said, "'Cause he knows I might come to hell and take over." That's an amazingly bad idea. [laughter] But people have these thoughts about such a weighty subject, about death and heaven and life and hell and think we can't know. And that's not consistent with biblical revelation.
God wants us to know and he wants us to logizomai. He wants us to calculate, to compute, to consider these things. Paul said, "I thus judge, the love of Christ constrains me, because one died for all, therefore we should not live for ourselves." He's compelled and constrained by his conclusion. You see the thinking. Now Christianity has been called an emotional religion. It's been called a religion for the lower intellectual class. Christianity calls on the highest faculties of the human mind possible. And so I've stood on this stage many times over the years and conducted funerals and in churches like this with like audiences like you. And I'm going to tell you what I almost always tell them, because frankly, very few people will; and that is---there's not just one kind of life and death.
Not the impression you would get from the mass media: live the life, have the golden years, and then you face the daisies. There is more than one kind of death. There's more than one kind of life. There is animal-plant life that we share with those kingdoms. That's the function of our---just our physical bodies beating. You share that kind of life. We exist and we subsist on the oxygen and whatnot. But that is just biological life, bios. We get our word "biology" from that. I mean, even plants do that, you see. But that's not the high kind of life. That's a common, elementary kind of life. Now, the second kind of life there is psuché, psuché. It's a Greek word and we get our word "psychology" from. And this distinguishes us from the animal and the plant kingdom, because a soul, mind, emotion, will.
Now, I know, the dog people here are going, "Oh, my dog has is a soul." Let me say this: the only thing your dog is contemplating is how to get the toilet lid up when you're not home. [laughter] That's the depth of his emotional meditation. No. We're distinct from the animal kingdom in that way. And then that'd be great, but there's a higher kind of life. Mankind is unique in that we have the ability to reflect. Animals don't have consciences. They have instincts, built-in instincts. And we, the human race, is unusual in that way, and that's what sets us apart from the animal kingdom. And yet there is a higher kind of life, the zóé kind of life, the divine kind of life, the eternal kind of life that it can only be found in God. And get this---it can't be gotten, it can't be inherited, it can't be found. It has to be given.
It has to be given and God has chosen one avenue and one avenue alone to be a medium to bring zóé, the eternal life, into the human heart, and that's through the cross of Jesus Christ. All roads do not lead to God. And the question, Will God allow a person to go to hell? Is really the wrong question. We should be saying, "How can God allow us to go to heaven?" That's the wonder of it all. That's the magnificent thing, that he made a way. And Jesus said one way---"I'm the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." But there is a way. There is that one way to have eternal life flowing into your heart, making you into a new creature. That is the gospel. That is the good news. But I have to tell you, have to be brutally frank with you: there's also other news.
Because as certainly as there are three kinds of life, there are three kinds of death, three kinds of death. The cessation of bodily functions is what we commonly call death---the brain waves, the flatline, the end of the heart---and that is, physical death. Now the flowers that often were up here during funerals were one time alive and planted in the ground. And they appear---they appear to be alive, but they've been amputated from a source of life and they are---listen---they are dead while they appear to live. And if the same thing can happen to the human heart, that's a second kind of death, because the Bible says, "He who lives in sin is dead while they liveth." You can be walking, talking, literally a dead person walking.
But if you are not forgiven of your sins, if you're cut off from the avenue of eternal life, you are dead in your tracks. But I have to tell you there's a third and even a worse kind of death, one to be avoided at all costs. One that was so significant that God has to send his very Son to come and bleed and be tortured and die on our behalf to avoid; and that is, final death, ultimate death, separation from God. And that should send spiritual shivers up your spine. The thought of waking up in that condition in a permanent state with no resolution, no relief, and no possible rescue; is terrifying, or should be. And people who are without Christ are dangling over the gaping jaws of hell. And that has to be taken seriously, seriously.
Despite what Satan said, Randy Alcorn reminds us, "We don't want to think about death; yet, worldwide, 3 people die every second, 180 per minute, nearly 11,000 people die every hour [24/7]. According to the Bible, what happens to us after death should cause us to hesitate, because it means more than 250,000 people every day go either to heaven or to hell." That is the most serious information you could ever receive in your life, because if you make the wrong decision about that fact, you'll make an eternal wrong turn. And what more could God do to avoid that fate for you? What could he possibly have done? He sent prophets. He sent priests. He established a kingdom in Israel. He sent his Word. He sent miracles. And then, finally, he sent his very Son.
He has sent angels. He has walked on water. He has moved mountains to signify the fact that he loves us, that he has a message for us. And this has to be taken literally and seriously. What more could God do than he's already done? The gospel is going out like never before, all over the world right now. The steady drumbeat of conviction and compassion and forgiveness, all leading to the common area, the foot, the level ground at the foot of the cross. And if you fail to take that offer, there's no remedy for you. There's no hope. There's no possibility of salvation outside of Christ. There's no plan 'B'. There's no asterisk. There's no tomorrow. There's no do-over. And tonight, some of you tonight need to make that decision. I pray some of you will. We'll give you the opportunity in just a little while to accept Christ.
If you're uncertain in the smallest way, don't leave this room without computing, calculating the consequences of that decision in coming to Christ, allowing him to forgive you. I love what Billy Graham said the other day. It was quoted about him the other day. He said, "In all my years, all around the world, I have not known one person who accepted Christ and later regretted it." Isn't that fantastic? Now they may regret something about the Christian experience, but about the fact of accepting Christ, couldn't think of anybody who says, "I wish I hadn't done that." Because he so sweet. He's so real. He's so forgiving. He changes your life. He changes your heart. And people can argue with you, but you know it's true. You are a different person once Christ comes inside and sets up his kingship.
Now there's a battle, there's a struggle, there's falling and crawling and all, but you know it's legitimate. So what to do about the issue of death? Well, he says, "I reckon you should take this information into consideration when you set your priorities and goals for life." Charles Swindoll said, "Careful living"---listen---"Careful living requires 'making the most of every opportunity,' literally, redeeming the time." Redeeming the time. Paul concluded this, that this present life is a microcosm of a macro life to come, and we're going to walk through that. Our second word is "suffering," if you look at our text tonight. "I consider the suffering"---and stop there. This is a huge word. The text pivots around this word.
It's a banner word for the human condition and its effect, the human condition's effect on the universe, what the fall did, like a nuclear, spiritual explosion. The Bible says, "The whole"---listen---"The whole of creation is groaning" over this fact right now. Groaning. You know what that's like to get up out of a chair and you groan. But the whole of creation is groaning. The roadkill you drive by, the animals that are killed, the conflict, the terrorism, all the word is groaning, creaking, waiting for redemption and salvation that's promised. All creation groans. The human condition must factor in the fruit of the fall---depravity, depression, death---all bad fruit that lead directly back to the fall. To understand this properly, we have to take off---listen---take off what I call "first-world goggles."
Because although we are fortunate to be where we are when we are, we are the pinnacle, the very peak of human achievement. And most of the world doesn't see life the way we do. Suffering in this context here is not about the deprivation of our wants, it's about the loss of needs. You may suffer because your business has gone bankrupt, but one-third of the world lives on less than two dollars per day. You may think you're suffering emotionally because someone broke your heart and betrayed you, but one billion people tonight do not have access to clean water. You might think suffering is a lack of some enjoyment in your life that you were counting on, and not understanding that most of the world doesn't even have refrigerated food.
And so we need to really understand what suffering is, and so that's the context of this part of verse 18. And then our next word you looked on with me is in the "present time." "I consider the suffering of this present time"---stop there. "This present time," you have to get a grip with an overview of the biblical time line to see where we're at in this present time, because Paul wrote this some 2,000 years ago. And so it's still the "present time," but things have changed. Things have changed. And where are we on the time line of biblical history tonight? Well, you know the sequence. It's a well-taught body, well studied. Age of creation: innocence, Adam and Eve in the garden. You saw what God intended walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
Age of conscience: from the gates of the garden of Eden, post-fall, to the door on Noah's ark when man had a conscience that was installed with the knowledge of good and evil as a function of their disobedience. And then human government: Noah's family dispersed across the face of the earth. And, finally, that led up to the promise of Abraham, the father of our faith. From that sprang the Hebrew religion, the Jewish nation, the law of the prophets, priests, and kings. Again, God just doing everything possible to try to make the world understand how bankrupt they were without him. Pagan nations worshiping a plethora of gods in the most unbelievable of ways; it surrounded Israel. And then the door opened after Malachi to the age of grace. That door is open tonight. It's open to you.
But it won't be open forever. It's an opportunity that won't exist permanently. You might say, "Oh, some other day. I'll come back. Maybe Sunday. Maybe when Skip's back I'll come and get saved." Um, no. Today is the day of salvation. If you're hearing his voice tonight, if you're watching by way of Internet, if you hear his voice, harden not your heart, because you're only promised today. You're only promised the next heartbeat. The age of grace ushered in by the death of Jesus Christ, he opened that door where works and legalism would never get a man to heaven. God set the threshold, the bar very, very low. Do you know what you have to do to step across that threshold and into eternal life? Just step across that bar.
Now, there are those who want to raise the bar, make you jump over it, or dress a certain way or act a certain way or believe a certain way. And God says, "No. Anybody, 'whosoever will' may come. Just come to me, ask to be forgiven, and welcome to my kingdom." It's as simple as that. Now, that's the absolute macroview. I've pulled the camera lens all the way back to see the whole sweep and panorama there very quickly of biblical history from the garden to the garden. The reign of Christ happens and we're functionally back in paradise and even better. But there's also a life cycle of nations. There's also a life cycle for us as individuals. You know that to be true. It's typified by our keeping track of our age.
Now, the insurance tables in America today say the average woman will live to be 81 today in America; average man will be 78 when they die. I'll leave that without comment. But wait, again, that's the first-world perspective. I've got first-world glasses on again, because in African nations today the average age of death is between 38 and 51 for men in many African nations. And so the promise of that kind of life isn't everywhere that we enjoy here. In fact, the case has been in many years of life that 1 in 3 children died before they were 5. For many years the average age expectancy in the Middle Ages was 41. The average king of Judah lived to be 53. And so that we have 78 and 81 is marvelous. It's fantastic. But isn't promised for everyone and it really isn't even promised for us.
I know that to be true for sure. I haven't been here for five years---in fact, if I was here five years ago, I'd been standing on thin air, because this wasn't even here then. But back there---and I had no idea I'd be facing time in the back of an ambulance in Miami and just a moment or two away from heaven. You don't know what awaits you. You don't know. I just talked to a dear brother who his father's gone off to be with the Lord just a day or so ago. We don't know if you'll ever be back here, if you'll ever have the opportunity to accept Christ and repent of your sins. So make that calculation. Make that decision tonight. We'll give you the opportunity. That is the macroview of things. And America is in a treacherous position right now, but we are individuals living in this nation that's on a virtual tipping point of survival.
And as we go through life, through the 80 years or 78, how many ever we're granted, we have no guarantees, as I'm saying. I heard the oldest man in America died a few weeks ago. He was 109. It means he was born in---what?---1906. That really means, if you think about that, everybody born up until the end of the eighteen hundreds is already dead. There's not one person alive today, that we know of, who was born in the century of the eighteen hundreds up to 1906. The billions and billions of people who fill that category have all gone, have all gone the way of all flesh. And we're not going to avoid that fate. And so that in that we have four seasons in our life, do we not? And I want you to identify, as I walk through them with you, what season you're in, what part of your life that you're in.
If you're 50 right now, you have roughly a thousand weekends left in your life, more or less. That's the kind of thinking we should do. Now that's not being pessimistic or cynical. The Bible says, "Help us to number our days." Help us to redeem the time. Help us to be thinking about hourglasses. This is not going to go on permanently as it is. Springtime, the time of preparation, the time of preparation. That's the time when you break up the hard ground, you plow the ground, prepare for planting. Albert Einstein said that the most powerful principle in the universe is that of compound interest. And I would say that may be true, far be it from me to argue with Albert, but I would say a second most powerful principle is that of reaping and sowing, the universal law that you will reap what you sow.
And that fact is a simple solution to many complex problems in your life. Many people can't figure out why things are happening in their life as they do, and they're cyclic and they happen, repeat, repeat, repeat. And the fact is you're reaping what you sowed. You're reaping what you sowed six months ago right now. That's just a---and don't just think of finances. It has to do with health. It has to do with family relationships. It has to do with your mental stability. Things you've sowed into your mind are going to bring forth a harvest. It's unavoidable. And it is true financially as well. And so springtime is a time for planting, a time for putting in the ground seeds abundantly, liberally. And so there are no Jack and the Beanstalk magic beans where you can just plant today and reap tomorrow.
That's not how the principle works. It takes time. It takes faith. It takes patience. So, springtime, what are you sowing now? What are you putting into your life, into your mind, into your heart, into the kingdom that you might be able to reap both now and in everlasting, the times to come? So the parable of the sower tells us that break up that hard ground. If you throw seed in hard ground, it cannot spring up roots. It just can't happen. Break up the hard ground, plant liberally. Plant liberally. A smart farmer doesn't plant just one little kernel of corn, you know. They plant a lot and some don't sprout. Some don't germinate. Plant liberally. Diversify in your planting, not just one kind of fruit. Give to different outreaches. Give to a variety of diversified opportunities to bring forth fruit.
And then don't eat all the seed. Don't eat all the seed. We'll be tempted to do that, you see. If you don't save some seed to reinvest, you'll have nothing to plant next year. And you'll have no harvest. That's precisely what Israel did. You see, they didn't keep the Jubilee year. God gave them a direct command in how to prosper and be an amazing nation to all the surrounding pagans. And they thought, oh they would just use all the seed and not be faithful and obedient to what God told them to do. And so don't eat all the seed. Three questions: What are you sowing? Remember, "God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, he will reap." Where are you sowing? Are you sowing on plowed ground and are you sowing abundantly? Are you sowing liberally?
Are you sowing hilariously, knowing that God will bring forth a harvest in your life? This is a solution to many of the crises that we face on a daily basis. If we'll deal with them now, we'll have a rich and abundant harvest in the time to come. Spring, and then, obviously, summer. Summer is a time of two words: water and weeds, water and weeds. You see, plants need water and they need to be weeded, and that's no fun. That's the grunt work. That's the hard work of hoeing and tearing up weeds. Because the enemy will sow weeds in your spiritual life. You've got to have a---be a gatekeeper. You gotta create a perimeter. You gotta be vigilant. You gotta be willing to tear things up. And you gotta be willing---gotta be willing to be pruned, to be pruned.
Even fruitful, faithful Christians need to be cut back periodically for the good of producing better fruit, you see. Just having a lot of wild fruit and wild branches is not the best way. God wants good fruit, wants rich fruit with depth and character and maturity and texture. And to do that we have to be clipped back sometimes. We can't do everything. We can't go everywhere. We have to allow God to prune us. And that's what Jesus said, every branch in me that doesn't bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does he prunes back that it might bear---what?---more fruit, more fruit. God wants more fruit from your life, fruits of the Spirit and abundance of them. Springtime---preparation. Summer---water and weeding. Fall---aah this is a fun time, a time for harvest, a time for harvest.
And Jesus said, "The harvest is ripe," the wheat is ready to be harvested spiritually, "but the laborers are few." Now why would that be? If this is all so clear and blatant and abundantly obvious, why wouldn't you be standing in line to get eternal rewards for the simple acts of service that God anticipates his church will do: feeding, clothing, visiting, preaching? It's easy, but the laborers are few. And I'll let you make your own application to that. Perhaps we expect too little; perhaps we want the world too much. You know, either you're drawing closer to heaven tonight and falling in love with the only true superhero Jesus Christ, or you're in love with this world and the things of heaven are growing strangely dim in the light of what's down here.
We want to flip that picture around and have the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. You know, we can see the finish line. We're in a favored generation in the church today. We can see the finish line. We can see the completion of the Great Commission. There are serious meetings going on around the world, men and women who believe they can see the final completion of every language having the Bible in their own lang---in their translation. And then even having it in audio, so that those who are not literate can hear the Word of God. If you've ever seen anybody hear the Word of God for the first time and see the effect on their face, and they said, "I didn't think God spoke my language." You'd be thrilled to know we can see the finish life. It can happen.
It's not that far off, not that far off at all. But what about all the propaganda coming out now? "Oh, the church is shrinking. The numbers are going down. There were this many Christian in America ten years ago and now it's down. And the church, it's going to become extinct, an ancient religion." Wishful thinking, Satan. [laughter] That's what he wants people to believe. "Read the headlines, oh, I told you the church is going away. They're just a bunch of conservatives." The church is going forward like never before. The church is on the march. The church is moving. [applause] We have goals. This world is not our home. There's revival sweeping the world. God has not, for the most part, touched our land, but there are fantastic things going on worldwide.
The church is not dwindling. The numbers are not that---first of all, 75 percent of America never was Christian the first place in the conversion standpoint of it. So that right there, the numbers are skewed. But America is in deep trouble despite the health of the church. And I say the church is healthy for one reason, that Jesus said, "I will build my church," period. And I trust he's doing that on his own timetable and even with inferior partners. But he is building his church. Nonetheless, America is imploding. That's undeniable. There's been two Great Awakenings in America to date: one around the Revolutionary War, one near the Civil War. We need one now. We need one today.
The only hope for America is a great awakening, restoration, redemption, revival. Now, I don't know if that's going to happen nationwide. I do know this: it can happen personally. There's nothing restraining you and I from being renewed, from being revived, from being awakened from our sleep, for us to be fully about the Father's business, to be zealous, to be passionate, to be totally bought in, to have deep roots and rich fruit. That you can have. That promise is there for you. I said the "abundant Christian life." That's fall, harvesttime. It's time for harvest. And you see things happening in America that are very hopeful. I've walked the outfield of Angel Stadium many times when from foul pole to foul pole you couldn't even walk for all the people coming to Christ. And they had---you couldn't even fill the---get them all in the stadium.
And that kind of thing is happening nationally and globally and we need so much more of it. The great thing is you can be a part of it. There's nothing more thrilling. There's nothing more exciting. The world's pleasures have no comparison with being a part of the great harvest. The promise lingers in the air. The harvest is ripe; the laborers are few. Winter. Winter is a time for taking inventory, a time for planning, a time for preparation for the coming springtime. It's a time for fine-tuning your legacy. If you're in the winter of your life, you should be thinking about the investment you're making in the next generations and being certain your legacy is crisp and clear and sure, that what you're saying is, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" in the time remaining. And we need to be considering our legacy.
Now listen, listen, you might think, "I came to Christ late. All right. I lived lukewarm most of my life. I'm getting towards winter and I just haven't made those investments. I just didn't put the time in that I should have and could have and would have if I knew then what I know now. My kids and I weren't really eye to eye spiritually." I'll introduce a term to you that I think I have invented. It's called a "grace override." Yes, we deserve that regret. Our reflection is probably correct---we didn't. We should have, but we didn't. But God will override in grace. It's the Samson principle. Even though Samson was disobedient, his last days were powerful. His last days were fruitful, and he was obedient, and God gracefully overrode his years of disobedience and made him a man of God even to the last day.
So maybe you didn't invest all you could in your kids and they're gone, empty nest. But you know what? It's not over. You can mentor a child. You can be a part of someone's life who's a single parent. Forty-two percent of the American population lives in single-parent homes. In some demographics it's 70 percent. Our country will not survive if the general population gets to that point. But the fact is we can be a part of rescuing those children. But perhaps you didn't do when you were younger because of work or business or apathy or ignorance. You can do now. Take this time now in the winter years of your life and invest that wisdom, begin to prepare that legacy, plant in their life. Now, granted, you may not be around to see the fruit. You may be at that stage and age of life that you can plant.
But guess what? Your legacy will see that fruit. It'll be to your account, because you're part of the process. Two great words overarch this verse here. It's perspective and process. Perspective and process. Verse 18 of chapter 8 is all about the proper perspective. Let's read it together again. "I consider the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory, with the glory"---now stop right there. Don't read those next two words. Wait. Promise me you won't read them. Okay. "With the glory." Lest just camp out in the word "glory" for a minute. The glory story. And we can only imagine what God really intended for mankind to experience on earth. The garden of Eden, you read Ezekiel, you read Revelation, you go, "What were these guys smoking? Because, wow, they wrote some wild stuff."
And the fact is our minds aren't capable of really adapting to everything heavenly. And so we have some things, but periodically God revealed the Shekinah. We call it the Shekinah glory. And periodically he would just---a glimpse behind the curtain happened. Moses, face to face. His face glowed afterward. Solomon, opening of the temple. The priests couldn't even stand to minister there's so much glory floating around. It was literally heavy of the weight, the gravitas of the glory. They couldn't even stand up. And then we have Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah. His whole countenance was like lightning the Bible says. And people hit the deck when that happens, the glory of God. That's just a glimmer. That's just a little taste of what God has for us.
We have three things. There's the experience of the glory. There's the expectation of the glory. And then we have time only for this one to really drill down: there's the explosion of glory that's coming. There's an explosion of glory coming for the child of God that is unimaginably wonderful. You see, we have some ideas about heaven, and most of them are limited to our five senses. And so even in that, in this fallen world, we can't even see all that God has done here. We can't see all the spectrums of color. We can't hear the full range of sound. Bats and dolphins and dogs all hear better than we do. And we don't see ultraviolet and x-ray. We see a very narrow band of color, and that's wonderful, the rainbow. You see, and then we don't even have all the dimensions. We think there are four: time and breath and width and heighth.
I won't go all Chuck Missler on you, but I can tell you there's probably at least ten in this dimension. Ten dimensions of living and we only have less than half of them. So, what's coming in heaven for the child of God? How exciting is that? What kind of experience will it possibly be? There's a---you read about heaven, there's transparent gold streets, and walls of precious jewels, and gates of pearls, and there's an emerald rainbow, and dive-bombing angels, and just all this going on. And that's just the pyrotechnic of heaven. That's just the exterior. That's just the external. You see, that's not even the real deal, because the real deal is in those two words after "glory." Look at it with me. "Will be revealed in us."
All that stuff's around us, and that's great. I can't wait till the crystal sea and all the unicorns and animals, and all that's great, but the glory story is going to happen here. You're not just going to go to heaven like you are now and go, "Wow, this is a great vacation. I'm going to get a selfie with Gabriel. This is a wonderful place to be." [laughter] It's not just going to be you in a better place. He's going to transform you. The glory's going to come within you. What did Jesus say? Where's the kingdoms of heaven? "Within you." Now that's a mysterious Scripture. "The kingdom of heaven is within you." That's why I think there's an explosion of glory coming to the child of God. A tremendous thing is going to happen that's really---the human language, Paul said, can't contain it.
It would be illegal spiritually to try to explain what's going to happen in heaven. But we get a little taste. We get a little trailer, a little preview of what God's going to do for us and then through us: new bodies, permanent, new name, new heart, new address. God has so much for us. So, please, don't look back on college or on some academic or some experience---"Oh, those were the good old days. That was---oh, I really had it then, and now my body is betraying me. I'm just kind of mundanely going through life. I've got Novocain in my soul. I'm just kind of numb to everything." Don't do that. The best is yet to come. God has so many plans for you. [applause] Someday he will wipe away all the tears. Someday no more death, sorrow, pain. The curse will be lifted and gone. All right?
I've got to give a little time here to the reason why this is such a powerful Scripture to me; and that is, the principles of seasons as I realize that sometimes I'm guilty of trying to gasp a previous season. So here are some principles to take out with you, okay? First of all, accept the season you're in. Accept the season that you're in. Don't pretend it's otherwise. Don't try to put spiritual Botox into your life to be something that you're not. Seasons will pass is our second principle. Suffering, pain, the valley of the shadow, this too will pass. It comes to pass. It comes to pass, powerful principle. People try to manipulate, prolong, and rush seasons, try to be older when they're younger, younger when their older. Embrace, take the very best of the season you're in.
If you're in a season of planting, plant with all your might. If you're in a season of growth and becoming more mature, weed thoroughly. Drench yourself with living water. The rewards will be beyond your wildest dreams. Embrace the season. Listen, don't try to change the season; let the season change you. Get in sync with God's calendar. He has a rhythm. Look at the seasons of the world. God has a rhythm for your life. Do you know that Israel seldom truly got in synchronization with God's calendar, with the Sabbath and the sabbath years and the Year of Jubilee? They thought---of course, we would never do this. They thought they knew better than God. Yeah, they did. They thought they had a better grasp or how to order their lives.
And then put away childish things. Put away childish things. You know, as Christians as you mature, maybe you don't need to go to every Christian concert. Maybe you don't have to be at every Christian conference. Maybe you need to be really devoting yourself in some deeper things in life. Maybe you need to consider the disciplines of the soul. Not out of legalism, but out of just a desire to know more about Jesus. Consider that. So, John said there are seasons of a child, a young man, and a father of the faith. Where are you at in that sequence? Young children are foolish. Time to put away the toys, spiritually speaking, and grow into the man and woman that God meant you to be, to fill out the vacuums left by your deficiencies. The human season will end.
This age of arrogance will not go on forever. The period of pride, the time when man could boldly confederate with Satan in open rebellion to the whole universe---this too will pass. This is a temporary time. This will not go on forever like this. God has big plans. He's allowed this to happen. This is not a mistake or Satan snuck up on him, but it's a part of an amazing, intricately complex plan that we really can't comprehend now. But in that day we'll say, "Right on, God. Wow, what you did through everything in my life." Well, we need to go full circle now and back to that hole in the ground in Montana and our relationship to it. Because as we saw in the Scripture, Jeremiah said that sometimes before God builds he has to rip down, tear down throw down before he can build up.
And maybe that's happening in your life. Maybe you're going through a time of tearing down, and you thought you were building something and God has let it just crumble. And it was your dream. You know, maybe can you consider it wasn't his dream? Maybe he has a better dream. Maybe that dream had to vanish for God's dream to take shape. Just maybe. And I spoke of that builder and the architect and the financier, whoever owns that hotel. And they have that picture of that beautiful building they're going to see someday, but right now it's just a---literally a hole in the ground. And I want to say something: God has plans for you. God has a vision for your life he wants you to fulfill.
And just as certainly as that bank and that builder and that architect and that construction company has the ways and means to create a hotel out of a hole in the ground, listen, God has the power, God has the provision, God has the will to see your life changed. You don't have to be content with mediocrity. You don't have to be settled into spiritual defeat. You don't have to be caught in the mundane and the routine and the pedestrian. God has exciting spiritual adventures, vistas for you to conquer. He wants to expand your borders. He wants to move your horizons further than you can even imagine. But you need to let go. You need to release your dream, embrace his dream, and see where it will take you. I'm convinced of that. That is what God is speaking to the church.
We're expecting too little of him. He's capable of doing so much more. This is not because you have to do it; it's because you love Jesus and you want to do it. It becomes the only thing that's really paramount in your life. It becomes a driving force, knowing him, loving him, serving him that we can't stand it that people that we know and love and work around don't know him and are ignorant of his grace. And so help us to be channels that we flow living water. And when we're bumped into, we spill out grace, that we give away unmerited favor on a consistent, regular basis. That's what God hopes to do in your life. And so America is on the verge of implosion. That's without doubt. You look at the cycle of nations, you see right where we're at. But we see fractures in our country as never before.
Personally, now personally we've all been given the death sentence. It's kind of like if you take individuals, if you've seen on TV shows where they're called into the doctor's office, and he brings back the test results and he's very serious and sober. And he sits down and he says, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but it's Stage IV." Or, "You're in the final days," or "You've so much to live." And what they often say after that horrific news is, "Listen, go home and get your affairs in order." And I think God is saying that to the church right now. "Get your affairs in order. Get things lined up, because you're terminal. Your days are numbered." Our time eventually is going to be up, just as is personally, globally, and we need to get our affairs in order.
But, also, to those who are outside of Christ, most importantly he's saying to you tonight, "Your number one affair is squaring your relationship with me." Nothing is more important, the life insurance, the wills, the probate, the 401-whatevers, nothing. One fundamental issue in your life: Is your relationship right with God? Have you squared the deal by accepting Christ into your heart, allowing him to forgive you? Yes, I know your sins are as scarlet. You're thinking of the horrific things you have done. But he will make them as white as snow. That's how powerful the blood is. That's what Jesus is capable of doing. Only the Holy Spirit is capable of going into your life right now like a precise surgeon and going between soul and spirit, bone and marrow, and speaking to the very issues of your life.
Some tonight are hearing him. Some tonight need to respond to him. Time---time to come home. Time to give up. What God requires is surrender. You say, "I can't do this. I can't pretend anymore. I can't go wrong with this counterfeit charade. Maybe you come to church, but it's a thin veneer of what's really happening in your heart. That can all begin to change tonight. God wants just so much just to embrace you, to forgive you, to wrap his arms around you, and to throw a celebration for you. The question hangs: Will you allow him to do that? Getting your affairs in order begins with the invitation I'm going to give right now. Let's all pray.
God, we're so grateful that you've opened that door. The only door to salvation is in the shadow of the cross of Jesus Christ, and no man comes to the Father except through him. Speak to hearts now, Lord. I pray with my brothers and sisters for anyone here tonight struggling with that decision, unsure of their final destination, not really knowing what lies ahead and not comfortable with a wait-and-see attitude. I pray that wisdom would be reflected in a decision to accept the gift of Jesus Christ right now. And if that's you, God is speaking to your heart, your palms maybe sweaty and your heart beating, but I want you to raise that hand and say, "Pray for me, Chip. I want to accept Christ right now." Who will take that step? God bless you. There are more. And you. Praise the Lord.
The Holy Spirit is speaking to hearts. Don't miss this opportunity. You cannot afford to get this one wrong. Let the love of Christ be shed abroad in your heart. It's over. It's finished. He has accomplished it. You don't have to earn it. You don't have to do anything except accept it. It's such a marvelous gift. In the back, I see your hand back there. Anybody else tonight? In the balcony. Anybody watching by way of Internet or a later archive, you too can make is step to accept Christ right now. You can know him. You can be forgiven. You can have a definite promise, a guarantee of a place in heaven. So, if your hands are up, just stand up right now. I'm going to pray for you. Anybody who raised your hand, just stand up where you're at. Don't worry what people think. Stand up, that's right.
God bless you. Stand up; we're going to pray for you. Anybody else? Balcony? Thank you, Lord. This is what we call the "great confession," the belief in Christ and his promises to forgive and to save. Let's all repeat after me and pray together with these. Lord Jesus, I believe that you died for our sins, and that you are the Son of God. I believe your blood cleanses me from all sin. Forgive me. Help me to love you and to serve you all the days of my life. Holy Spirit, come into my life and empower me, in Jesus' name, amen. Let's all stand. [applause]
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.