Hello, and welcome to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. We pray this message impacts you. And if it does, we'd love to hear about it. Email us at email@example.com. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/give.
Every day in every city, people go to the gym to get in a workout. But money spent on a gym membership is pointless unless we take the right approach. In the message, How to Have a Great Workout, Skip considers what it means to have a healthy spiritual life. Now please turn in your Bible to Philippians chapter two as he begins.
Let's pray before we begin. Father, we do thank You for Your faithfulness to us throughout the week. Some of us come, Lord, with questions. Some of us come with burdens. Some of us are downcast. We're distressed. Others are filled with joy and excitement because of their circumstances. But Lord, would you meet us wherever we are and take us to where you want us to be? By your grace, in Jesus' name, amen.
Last year, a 29-year-old weightlifter named Kenneth Leverich, world-class athlete, went to a very famous beach in Southern California, Venice Beach, at a particular place called Muscle Beach on Venice Boardwalk. It's a place that's sort of cordoned off with chain link fence. And weightlifters go there and show off their physique and what they can do to everybody who comes. It's a wild, crazy place.
So this 29-year-old Kenneth Leverich goes to Muscle Beach, and he challenges that people who were there to a weightlifting competition. Now, that would not be unusual, except he decided to go disguised as an 84-year-old man.
And the disguise was so good. I mean, he had a Hollywood-class makeup artists put wrinkles on him, give him a gray receding hairline, gray hair, little wire-rimmed glasses, a cardigan sweater, khaki pants. And he shuffled out there in his tennis shoes. And so he goes, I'm challenging you guys. Let's see what you got. And they look at him like, you can't be serious. And so they started lifting weights, and he smoked them.
So get this. He lifted 465 pounds doing a back squat. And to say that the crowd was amazed would sell it short. I mean, they were just flabbergasted. All the phones were going out, like, I can't believe what I'm seeing. There's an old man who's just beaten everybody out here. And I saw it on YouTube. It has been seen 110 million times on YouTube. So you might want to just check that out, Kenneth Leverich, and look it up. Don't do that now. It's not a church activity.
But just remember that and look it up later. So at the end of this workout, these young weightlifting kids are just shaking their heads. They finally went up to him and said, do you have any advice for us? Could you tell us what-- we obviously need to learn from you. So what can you tell us? And he said, kind of in his older voice, he goes, just keep doing this. Just keep working hard. Just get strong every day.
And for a few minutes, the crowd thought an 84-year-old had beaten the 25-year-olds. But what it amounted to when the disguise was all off is Kenneth Leverich just had a great workout.
Now what I want to share with you today out of Philippians 2 is How to Have a Great Workout, how to have a great spiritual workout. I want to talk about your spiritual exercise routine Working out what God is working in you. And that comes from Philippians chapter 2 verse 12.
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."
Today, we're covering only two verses, and that helps us. It allows us to really dig deep into it and to uncover truth by truth, phrase by phrase what Paul was writing to the Philippian church. But here's a little interesting background.
In the United States of America, there are 30,000 health clubs, gyms. 30,000 of them in the United States, along with 273,500 personal trainers to go around. How many people do you think in the United States are working out at these gyms? 58 million of us go to a gym and work out. Do we have any people here that do that, work out at the gym? God bless you. I see that hand. God bless hand.
Yeah, a lot of us do that. It's a lucrative business. In the United States alone, gym membership revenue is $27 billion, $27 billion. Of course worldwide, that is $75.7 billion are taken in by these people, on people like us who pay the money to go.
But here's the digger. Did you know that 80% of those people who join health clubs-- 80%, that's a significant number-- will quit after five months? So I'm thinking they have good intentions. It's probably January, New Year's resolution. I'm going to hit it. I'm going to do it. I'm going to do this this year. And they're good for January, February, March. But come April, May, peace out. They quit.
Question is why? Why do 80% of the people quit a workout program? Easy answer, because it's hard, right? It hurts to do that. It's not easy. As one jokester put it, my first workout back at the gym was great. I did 15 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes on the defibrillator, then 3 days in the hospital.
Or you might have heard that old joke, when I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes.
But the truth is, we can't be passive in spiritual matters. We do have to be aggressive. We have to, when it comes to spiritual health, we need to exercise our faith. We need, in short, to work out what God is working into us. That is the thrust of this passage. And why must we do that? Why does Paul think that he should devote two verses to kind of hammering this home in this correspondence to the Philippian church?
Well, it's because Christianity is more than just a decision to make Jesus your Savior. It's also a determination to walk with Jesus as your Lord, as your master. If you don't do that, you're going to become what so many in the Church of Jesus Christ around the globe and especially, I would say, in this country, have become. A lot of people have become pew potatoes. That's the spiritual equivalent of a couch potato. They're a pew potato. They're a lounge lizard. They're viewers. They watch things happen, but they're not doers of the word. And so we have to guard against that.
GK Chesterton, one of my favorite authors, poet, statesmen, theologian, said, "The Christian faith has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried."
So you have a gym membership, so to speak. God is at work in you. That's good news, and we love to hear that truth. God's working, man. God's working. God's working in me. What that doesn't mean is that you can just hang out. It doesn't mean let go and let God. I used to hear that all the time. Just let go and let God. Let go of what? Let God do what? And it's almost like you don't do anything, and you just watch God do stuff.
So what I want to do and looking at these two verses and drilling down with you is give you five choices to make if you're going to have a great workout. Number one, get a good trainer. Get a good trainer. You'll notice the first word in verse 12 is the word, what? Your Bible says, "therefore." "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Now whenever Paul uses a "therefore,"-- and by the way, this is the third time he has done so in this chapter alone-- what he is doing is pulling back something he just told you into the present. I just told you about this. Therefore, and he brings that truth to bear now. So what he has been talking about is Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself, and then God exalted Him. So what he is saying is, He is our example. That has been his trust for the entire chapter so far. Jesus is our great example.
Mark Twain used to write a lot of quippy things. One of the things he wrote was, "Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example." And what annoys us about a good example? Well, good examples set a standard, don't they? And it's sometimes hard to watch a good example, because they set a standard for us that it's hard to hit on some occasions. And what if that example isn't just a good example, but He's the perfect example? I mean, Paul is saying, here's Jesus. Look what He's done. Do that. You're going, I'd like to, but I don't think that's going to happen.
However, a good example can inspire us. It can incentivize us. And that is the thought of Paul's use of the word "therefore" at this particular time. When he says "therefore" in this verse, he is saying, on this basis, or on the basis of Christ, on the basis of Jesus' example of love and humility, do this.
I've been told by a number of accomplished athletes that what has made their routine work, their workout routine work out is a personal trainer. They said it was always the difference to them between failure and success. And why is that? Because a personal trainer will incentivize you, will encourage you. You can do this. You can do this. I'll spot you. Don't use too much weight. Do it this way. You're not having the right form. So a good trainer will help you get the most out of your workout.
Well, who can you think of is the best trainer for all things spiritual? None better than Jesus. That's why Jesus said, it is recorded no less than 19 times in the 4 gospels. He said the two simple but profound words, "Follow me." Follow me. Jesus said, "Follow me." He didn't say, follow my people. He didn't say, follow my disciples. He didn't say, follow my preachers. He said, "Follow me."
Even when Jesus washed people's feet, like the disciples in the Last Supper, he was washing their feet because they couldn't be bothered with it. They're arguing about who's going to be the greatest in the kingdom. So Jesus gets down and washes their feet. And then He said to them, "I have given you an example that you should do as I have done." So He becomes their spiritual trainer.
Now it's good to have more human examples, we might say, of integrity and honor that we can follow. Paul was one of those. He said to his brothers and sisters, "Follow me as I follow the Lord." But the real key to spiritual success is beginning with the right template. And for the Philippians and for Paul, that template, that model was Jesus Christ. Now, notice what he says.
"Therefore," using Jesus as the basis or example, "my beloved," he calls them. "My beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence, only when I am with you, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation." What a sweet description Paul has for this group of Christian believers. You've always obeyed. I love that. You guys are always responsive.
In fact, the word he uses here for "obeyed" is the same word he uses in Ephesians 6 when he says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is the first commandment with a promise." So here's the thought. Just like a child would be responsive to a parent, the Philippians were responsive to Paul's spiritual leadership. But now they have a problem. Paul's in jail. He's incarcerated. They don't have Paul around any longer. But they still have the example of Jesus Christ.
See, that's Paul's point. Whether I'm with you or not with you, therefore, obey. Therefore, do this. So Jesus becomes the ultimate model for them.
There's a principle to be found here. The real test of spiritual maturity is how you live when the props are gone. When you don't have somebody there to tell you how to do it, or what to do, or show you how to do it, who do you look to? Paul's in jail saying, I'm absent from you, but Jesus is present with you. He's spotting you. He's watching over this.
Some people on jobs will work very hard when the boss is looking. Most bosses can figure out pretty quickly who those people are. But they can always spot, and they round a corner, and all of a sudden, that employee sits up, and puts that phone down. Like, no, I'm not on Instagram. Hi. What can I do? I'm just all about work. This is who I am. I'm a worker. But they're that way only when the eye of the boss is on them.
I think what Paul is saying to them is, your boss, He's always watching. He's always looking. Whether I'm with you or not, Jesus is always there. He is that personal trainer.
Not long ago, I was driving my car, rounding a corner. I saw a runner in the distance. The runner didn't know that I spotted him. I knew he was a runner because he had Nike shoes on, he had shorts and shirt. I mean, he was like Nike personified. But he was walking, sort of dragging his feet. But when I rounded the corner and came toward him, you know what he started doing?
Waving like yep, yep, I'm a runner. I'm doing this. But I could tell he's only a runner as long as I'm watching him run. So I don't know if he's just like dragging the rest of the day, and only when the cars come by, he's doing that.
Charles Spurgeon said, "If you desire Christ for a perpetual guest, give Him all the keys of your heart. Let not one cabinet be locked from Him. Give Him range over every room and the key of every chamber." So make sure Jesus is your personal trainer, your template, your model, when no one else is around. So first of all, get a good trainer.
The second choice you need to make if you're going to have a great workout is you got to pump some iron. You've got to get in there and work it out. So look at what it says. "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Now this has been a problem verse of scripture for a lot of people for a long time. What does Paul mean, "work out your own salvation?" It's problematic, especially when they find out what the words actually mean. The words actually mean maintain constant energy and effort to finish a task. And when I say it's become a problematic text, it's because some people think it means self-help salvation. That I'm going to work really hard to get saved, sort of the equivalent of God helps those who help themselves.
So they think, if I work hard, if I earn my way there, then God is going to save me. And by the way, that's how most people think you get saved, by working hard. Ask someone, ask the average person where you live, your neighbor, at work, hey, are you going to heaven? Are you saved? You know what most of them are going to tell you? Well, I'm trying. I work real hard. I go to church.
Unless they say, no, I don't believe in that stuff. But if they want to go there, they will usually point to something they have done in working hard to earn God's favor. I'm working it out, man. I'm working it out. But please notice that Paul doesn't say, work for your salvation. He doesn't say, work toward your own salvation, or, work at your salvation. He says, "work out your own salvation." And you can't work out what God hasn't first worked in.
And what I want you to see is this. He's not writing to unbelievers, but to believers. He's not telling unbelievers how to get to heaven. He's telling believers this. He calls them, "beloved." He says in verse 1 of chapter 1, "You are saints in Christ Jesus." Those are believing people, not unbelievers. But he's telling believers, you got to go work out. You got to pump some iron. You have to do something. You have to apply some energy into this process.
I was reading this week about another athlete named Shane Hamman. He's been called America's strongest man. Some of you may have heard of Shane Hamman. He was in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. He weighed in at the time-- this is his training weight. He weighed in, his weight, 350 pounds. He's a big boy, 350 pounds. His chest, 62 inches. His neck, 22 inches. I mean, think Incredible Hulk. His biceps, almost 24 inches. Two feet of bicep. This guy's a monster. And he could squat lift 1,008 pounds. America's strongest man.
But Shane Hamman is also a believer in Jesus Christ, raised in a Christian home in Oklahoma on a farm. He said, when I was a kid my parents, strong Christians, he said, they drug me to church. They made me go to church even when I didn't want to go. And he looks back and goes, I'm glad they did. That's a good thing. So they worked really hard at getting the right things put into me. But he said, when it wasn't the weekends, when it was the weekdays, I grew up lifting melons on a farm. So his first workout was melon.
And he said, my week was this. Eight hours every day, I worked out in the fields. After which, I went to the gym 2 and 1/2 hours every day, 10 and 1/2 hours of workout every day. So that boy had a good workout.
Now look at the words in your text. It says, "work out your own salvation." Those two words are one single word in the original, the Greek language. The word is katergazomai, or katergazomai, however you want to pronounce that. And it means to work something to full completion, like you would work out a math problem. You're not inventing math. You're not producing math. You've been given a problem. Now, you work it out to full completion.
In ancient times, this word, work out, katergazomai, was used for working a mine or working a field. So let's take that first example, working a mine. Let's say you own a silver mine. Let's say it has even been given to you by your parents. They give you the title deed. You own this silver mine. There's silver or gold in them there hills, and you have it. Now, is that silver going to work its way out toward you and just land in your hand? No, you have to go in and work it out. It's yours. In fact, it's been given to you as a gift, but you got to work it out if you're going to enjoy it.
OK, now think of a field, owning a field. You have a field. Produce a little bit might grow on its own, but not much. You have to go work out the produce by plowing, and planting, and watering, and fertilizing, and maintaining. You have to work it out.
Let's take a more modern example, a different example. Let's say you are a musician, and you have been handed by a composer a composition. He puts it or she puts it in your hand. Now the composer has done it all. It's the composer that has thought of the melody. He has written the score. He has provided the timing and all of the notations. And now you have it, and your task is to work it out. Make it sound good. Put it to music. Apply your skill and give it the melody that has been given to you. Work it out.
Another example, you go to a doctor. Doctor looks at you, does an exam, goes, you got problems. So he gives you a diagnosis. He says, you need surgery. Takes you into the surgical room, performs an operation. After the operation, you wake up in recovery and he says, you're going to need rehab and you're going to need medication. So effectively, the doctor's done it all. He's giving you the diagnosis, performed the operation, given you the meds, and the rehab schedule.
At this point, you need to work it out. You need to show up for rehab. You need to go through those exercises. You need to take that medication and follow orders. So there must be a cooperation with the doctor's operation. You get the drift.
The New Living Translation translates this verse, "Put into action God's saving work in your lives." Think of it spiritually now. God has done all the work. He is the one that brings salvation. It's from God. But it takes energy to grow as a believer. If you're going to grow, you can't just let go and let God. You have to get in the race. You have to get in the game. You need to pump some iron.
Now I hope this is not a new revelation to you, because it's written about all over the Bible. This is one of those instances. But another one that I think it's just as poignant, if not more, comes to us from 2 Peter chapter 1. Listen to what Peter says. He says, "Therefore, His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us. Whereby are given to us exceedingly great and precious promises that by these, you may be a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
So far, so good. God's provided it all. God's made all the promises. God's done it all. But listen to what he says after that. "Therefore, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control, and to self-control, perseverance." You get it? Spiritual growth is not accidental. You don't wake up one day look in the mirror and go, oh my goodness, I'm so mature.
How did I get this way? Spiritual growth is intentional, not accidental. Spiritual maturity is the human cooperation with the divine operation. You are never told in the Bible, lounge in the spirit. You'll never find a verse. Look it up. Lounge, lounge, lounge, and you'll never find it. Lounge ye in the spirit. You'll never find something that says, veg out in the spirit. No, it says, "Walk in the spirit." That means you actually have to cooperate by putting one foot in front of the other and engage in the process of working out something that has been worked in.
So key to a great workout, get a good trainer. Pump some iron. Third choice you need to make, follow a personal plan. You'll notice what it says. Paul writes, "work out your own salvation." I love that he's put that there. "Work out your own salvation."
Now if you go to a personal trainer at a gym, that trainer's not going to pull out a one-size-fits-all training schedule for you. He's going to tailor it. He's going to ask or she's going to ask you some questions. They're going to say, OK, what are your goals? Do you do this a lot? Have you done it before? When you work out, how long can you commit to the workout? How many days a week do you want to do it? Do you do cardio along with weight training?
Or whatever that person's training you for, he's going to find or she's going to find out those things and then tailor-make a routine specifically fit for you. So work out your own salvation. You have your own relationship with the Lord. Don't be a cheap imitation of somebody else. Don't copy somebody else's routine. Follow a personal plan.
Just as no two snowflakes are exactly alike, no two flowers are identical, what makes you think you can get two Christians that are exactly alike? That's the beautiful variety of our God. You are unique, so work out your own salvation.
It's interesting that Paul in 2 Corinthians 10 speaks about people among them who were bragging, boasting. And Paul writes, "When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." So follow God's plan for your life, the gifts He has given to you personally. Be like Christ, but be yourself in Christ. Be your best self in Christ.
Now, let me take that truth and turn it around. Not only be what God made you, but don't worry about, don't meddle in, don't concern yourself with God's plan for everybody else. That becomes a problem with some. They're so worried about what everyone else is doing, and are they as good as I am, or are they doing as much as I am? And you can't win any competition or race that way in the sporting arena.
So there's somebody in the Bible that was like this. His name was Peter. Peter blew it. He denied Jesus three times. You know the story. After the Resurrection, Jesus has a personal gathering with Peter on the shores of Galilee and restores the old boy back to service. He says, "Peter, do you love me?" "Yes, Lord, I love You." "Feed my sheep." Does that three times. You know the story.
But then Jesus begins to tell Peter what Peter can expect when he gets older, and how he's going to die. He just gives him a little hint of his future. And Peter's listening. Here's Peter being restored to service. But Peter starts noticing that his buddy John is standing around, the apostle John. And Peter leans in and says to Jesus, what about him? What about this man? And I love Jesus' response. He said, "If I will that he remain 'till I come, what is that to you? Follow me."
You get that? Don't follow him. Follow me. I've got a plan for you. This is my plan for you. Follow me. Don't worry about him. He's going to follow me, too. You follow me. Don't follow him. Follow me. Got it, Peter? OK.
Now most of our problems come not when we're looking ahead. Most of our problems come when we're looking around. And so we're told in Hebrews 12 that we should run a race. And he said, "looking unto"-- finish it out. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith." Look to him.
Hey, do you think if you're running a race, if you're going in this direction but you're looking in that direction, what's going to happen to you? Any clue? You will fall. It's just physics. If you're concentrating on something else that is not where you're going, you will fall. If you're in a gym working out and you're looking everybody else working out, working out, you're going to get hurt. So work out your own salvation. Follow a personal plan.
There's a fourth choice you need to make in your spiritual workout. Don't flex in the mirror.
Don't flex in the mirror. Look how Paul puts it. Work out your own salvation with what? Fear and trembling. Don't get cocky. Do it with fear and trembling. There's always that guy in the gym who loves the mirror. He's in love with the mirror, especially when he's in it.
And he gets close enough not just to make sure he's doing it right, but just to see how that muscle flexes when he's doing it right. And then kind of look around to see if you're seeing his muscle flex when he's doing it right. He just loves that whole physique thing that he's got going on. So don't do that. Don't flex in the mirror. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Or one translation says it this way, "with deep reverence."
See, you might be a great spiritual athlete, but you need some humility. Have a tender conscience toward God, with fear and trembling. Now some people think that's strong language. What does that language have anything to do with the Christian life, fear and trembling? Those words are out in this culture. Well, JB Lightfoot, who is quite a scholar in language, calls this, "a nervous and trembling anxiety to do right." Listen to that, "a nervous and trembling anxiety to do right." I just want to do what's right.
If you start thinking, well, God's not into trembling, you need to read Isaiah 62, where God himself says, "On this one will I look, on him who is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word." In other words, God notices people that have the fear of the Lord, that reverential awe. Not based on reprisal, but based on relationship, a holy apprehension. I want to make sure it's pleasing to the Lord, that I'm not hurting His heart. That's how I live my life, in that fear of the Lord.
It's like a child-- a good child-- who would be afraid of hurting mom or dad by doing something wrong. That's the thought.
The example I found of this comes from 1830. And no, I wasn't around at the time. 1830 in London, England, a little girl was being trained-- tutored, private tutor-- and the lesson that day was the Royal family. So this little girl's listening, and they start bringing out the genealogical records of the Royal family of England. And they started going through the names.
And as they started going down the names down the geological record, she starts recognizing some of the names. Like, I know who that is. I'm related to that person. Well, that's my grandfather. And then she notices they point out to her, Victoria, her name. It was little Victoria, who would become Queen Victoria. And they wanted her to know in that fashion her genealogical background. And suddenly, it started dawning on her what they were teaching her. She is next in line for the throne of England.
And when the weight of that realization dawned on her, she got up to her feet and sort of with this shy sincerity, said, "I will be good. I will be good." it's like knowing this now stepped her up to that desire to live at a higher level. See, that's the idea of with fear and with trembling. So don't flex in the mirror. I'm spiritual.
The Bible says, "He who thinks he stands, take heed, lest he fall." So get a good trainer. Pump some iron. Follow a personal plan. Don't flex in the mirror. Fifth choice, final choice in your spiritual workout, use power supplements.
Yep, you need some power supplements. Here, verse 13. "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Often, athletes will use supplements. I don't mean drugs. I mean legitimate supplements to give them the energy to work through a routine. And there may be protein at the end to stabilize the muscles. And it just maximizes their efforts.
You can't work something out from you that God hasn't first worked in you. So this idea of work out what God has worked in is a very important relationship. You might put it this way. Work hard and obey and serve God, because He is energizing your work. Apply your energy, and God will energize your energy. God will work for your work. That's the idea.
In fact, the word "work"-- it says, "God works"-- it's the word energon. The Greek word energon, we get our word energy from energon. God energizes you. He'll energize your work. It's His divine energy at work in us, so they work together.
This might help. It helped me understand it. I was late for a flight. So here's the deal. I was flying on an airplane, going to Phoenix, catching a connecting flight. My plane-- I think it was out of here or I was coming back. I forget which-- was late. It was late taking off and it was late landing in Phoenix. So I'm wondering, I'm not going to make my connecting flight. I'm just going to have to wait for another one.
And what made it worse is when the plane landed, it landed in the terminal at Phoenix way over here on this terminal. And the plane, my connecting flight was on the complete exact opposite farthest away terminal out of the same airport. And I go, there's just no way. But in Phoenix, if you've been there, you know they have these cool moving walkways. There's like flat escalators. And so you can just sort of walk like this, and you will zoom past people walking on the regular part.
So I get on this walkway, and I start running. Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me, because I want to catch this flight. So that little gizmo, that walkway, helped me run faster and longer than I could ever do it on my own strength. The combination of my running and the walkway moving propelled me. That's this thought. Work out your own salvation because God is working in you. I was working, but I was really cooperating with a greater power that enabled me to reach my goal.
Now, these supplements that I'm talking about, this spiritual power, God's power, it begins in the will, and then it ends in the action. But it always affects our will first. Please notice how he puts it. "It is God who works in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure." You know what that means? It means God will give you the desire to do His will.
Anybody here ever desire a deeper walk with the Lord, anybody? Honestly raise your hand if you ever have wanted a deeper walk with the Lord. Ever thought, man, I don't pray enough. I want a deeper, better prayer life. Ever thought, I want to get involved. I'm not as involved. Ever had those desires? Guess where they come from. God plants them in you.
You see, in Psalm 37, it says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." And I've seen that misinterpreted as, well, I'm going to think good thoughts about God, and He'll give me whatever my little heart desires." So my little heart desires this, so God has to give that to me. No, he doesn't. It doesn't mean that. It means, delight yourself in the Lord, seek first the Kingdom of God, and God will actually plant in your heart a desire that is the right desire. He'll give you that desire. He plants a longing in you.
Before I was saved when I was growing up, I had no desire to read the Bible. If somebody had said, Skip, you ought to read the Bible, I said, why? What does that have to do with life? Certainly my life has nothing to do with Bible stuff. I never wanted to read the Bible. I had no desire, no longing. I never had a desire or longing to pray. I certainly didn't have a longing and a desire to be a preacher. If somebody would have said, in days ahead, you're going to become a preacher, I would have probably slugged them. I didn't want that.
But here I am. I read the Bible, I pray, and I'm a preacher. You know why? God put the desire in me. He put the longing in me to do that.
So every now and then, I'll meet people, Christians, that are frustrated, and I love it. I love when they're frustrated over this reason. They go, man, I just want to serve the Lord, but I'm frustrated because I don't know what to do next. I don't know what He wants me to do exactly. And I love that. I smile when I hear that, because I know they couldn't even have that desire unless God was working in them. So if He's given them that desire, He's going to now do what He has willed to do, what He has put in their heart to do.
And there's a reason that God begins with the will before He works on our actions, and it's a beautiful reason. The reason He gives you the will first is so that you'll enjoy it when you do it. So you're not going to walk around and go, I have to serve God. We don't want you serving God like that. We certainly don't want you doing it around here.
And I never get into the pulpit, I have to crank out another sermon. I've got to preach. I love this. I was having a conversation with the vice president of Campus Crusade for Christ, and we were talking about our callings. And he said to me, I could never do what you do. I love missions. I could never do what you do, being in one place over a long period of time, same people, preaching.
So he said, well-- and he was trying to figure out a nice way to say it. He goes, so, do you like to study? Do you like that? Do you enjoy studying? I said, I love it. I love it. I love-- and even with my ADD, I love to hyper-focus for a period of time, and drill down into a text, and dig out what it means, and find out what God is saying, and tell others what God is saying. I love that. And God gives us those desires. So let God work in you His desires, and then He'll work through you His plan and His purpose. I love this truth.
There was a young boy selling cookies to raise money. And a man walked by and asked him, what are you going to do with all the money you make? Not expecting the answer, he was going to get. What are you going to do with all the money you make? And the little boy said, I am one to raise $1 million for famine relief. And the older man said, really? You want to raise $1 million for famine relief? Do you think you can raise that much by yourself? And the little boy, not missing a beat said, oh, no. My little brother's going to help me.
First of all, I applaud the vision of that young boy, setting his sights so high, saying, I'm going to raise $1 million for famine relief. Good on you. But then he realized, I need help. I can't do this alone. I need my little brother to help me. So maybe his strategy wasn't perfect. But you can have a great workout, but you can't do it by yourself. You can only work out what God works in you. And God gives you desires. Then He gives you the power to pull it off.
Father, we are so grateful that You have a grand plan that includes us. And Your power, Your ability is so beyond ours, so it sort of is humbling to read in the same verse that we work out what You work in. It's humbling because we know that even given it 100% is an infinitesimal tiny fraction of what is needed to fully accomplish the task in a spiritual sense. It does take Your power and all of our effort. The net result is we're adding so little You doing so much. But how You love to work with us to accomplish your purpose. In Jesus' name, amen.
As believers, we should determine to stay in top spiritual shape. Did this message motivate you to make some changes in your life? We'd love to hear about it. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Alberquerque.