How We Come To God

2015 Messages

As JP walks us through Galatians 4:1-7, he reminds us that how you view God directly impacts how you come to God. When you realize that you come to God in freedom and not by force, as adopted sons and daughters, as heirs, and not as abandoned children, then your view of God is born of a relationship. God becomes "Abba", a papa who loves and comforts His children, always seeking their best -- even in the midst of trials.

Jonathan PokludaMay 17, 2015Galatians 4:1-7; Revelation 21:4; Galatians 4:6-7; Galatians 4:1-7; Galatians 4:1-3; Galatians 4:4-5

Good morning. Todd married off his oldest daughter last night. That was really fun. That means I get to take us through the Scriptures this morning, which means we're all in trouble, or might be, but take heart. I'm very familiar with trouble. I've been in trouble most of my life. I'll start with an example of that, actually.

When I was in high school I lived in a small town, Cuero, in the middle of nowhere. About 30 minutes away there was this other town. That was the big city. That's where the movie theater was. It was Victoria, Texas, and that's where you would go. There were actually restaurants and those sorts of things.

Victoria was out of school, and we weren't. We had to go to school, and I thought this was an incredible injustice and was going to take matters into my own hands. I called my best friend Travis and said, "I don't think we need to go to school today." We came up with this perfect, foolproof, flawless plan to skip school. I'll share with you some of our deviance.

I was going to go to first period and he was going to miss all day because it wouldn't be so obvious. That was really going to throw them off that we didn't just skip together. I went to first period and, not only that, I took a note. I had a friend of mine write a note from my mom that said, "Hey, Jonathan is not feeling well today. If he starts to get sick he has our permission to go home. If you want to call me, here's my number."

That number that was written on that note would actually ring my brother's cell phone. This was a time before everyone had iPhones in their pockets. My brother had this Zack Morris brick phone that I stole from him and gave to a female friend of mine, and I said, "Hey, if this rings, you answer, pretend to be my mom, and say I need to go home."

The plan was flawless. I went to first period and took the note to the admissions lady. She read it and said, "I'm sorry you're not feeling well. Let me call your mom really quickly." My friend answers the phone, "Oh, yeah. Go ahead and send him home. We know. We hate that." Beautiful.

Travis and I jumped into the car and headed to Victoria. If you've seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off, it has nothing on us. We had a great time, a fantastic time. All day long we hung with friends over there in the big city, and then about 3:00, when school was about to let out, we headed back toward Cuero.

We get there, we're high fiving, we're in my car celebrating, and we're at one of the three stop lights in Cuero. We're just reflecting, "Man, that was awesome. We need to do that more often. Easy." I look to my left, and I see a vehicle very familiar to me. It's my dad's pickup truck. We're both stopped at this light together. I look up at him, and he's looking at me, and he's just shaking his head. Then the debate ensues: "Is he just disappointed in general that I'm his son or is he disappointed because he knows something?"

We go home. Both vehicles travel to my house. Travis and I get out, and we go into my room and lock the door. We're avoiding my dad like the plague, like, "We don't want anything to do…" We're still debating, like, "Do you think he knows?"

"I don't know, man. Do you?"

"I don't know, man. Maybe he's just disappointed… I don't know."

Then I pick up the phone, and my dad is on the phone, so I can hear who he's talking to. He's talking to Travis's dad. "Yeah, the boys are here. I'll keep them here until you get here." I'm like, "Hey, bro. It's not good. Here's the deal. There's a tent in the garage. We can take that. I have a suitcase here. How long do you think we can live on a bag of carrots?" We're beginning to strategize a "How much money do you have?" kind of thing. It's like, "We need to run, and this is not good."

Here's why. Have you ever felt like someone was disappointed in you? That is a powerful force. When someone is disappointed in you, they look at you and shake their head like, "Man, I can't believe you did that. Really?" Those are powerful feelings. Here's what it doesn't bring up in you. It doesn't make you be like, "Man, you know what? I really want to go talk to my dad right now. That would be a lot of fun." It doesn't move you to that person. In fact, it moves you away from that person.

The reason I start with that story is, if you and I were honest this morning, a lot of us and maybe even the majority of us, when we go to God, know a couple of things. We know God is sovereign, and we've heard probably throughout our childhood God sees everything and he knows everything you do and everything you think about. If you really consider that, you know your thoughts are pretty wicked. You know you've thought some pretty crazy stuff.

In fact, you know along your life and the things done in private you've done some pretty crazy stuff, and now you're going to the one who knows all of that and could bring that all against you in a moment, and you're supposed to go, "Oh, man, but I love you. Hey, man, let's just catch up and be friends. How are you doing, all-powerful, almighty God who knows every sin I've ever committed?" It doesn't bring about intimacy.

A.W. Tozer says, "The most important thing about a man is what comes to his mind when he thinks of God." I find that to be true, but I want to put a spin on that and change it just a little bit to something else. The most important thing, I believe, about a Christian… This is a believing person, someone who has believed upon Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of their sins, someone who is promised to be with God forever and ever.

The most important thing about that person is what comes to his mind when he thinks about how God views him or her, what they think about when they consider how God views them right now. What does he see? The reason I believe that's the most important thing about a Christian is because it's the single most determining factor of how we approach him, how we come to him.

In fact, if this is true, if you consider these words to be true and you struggle to go to God, you can come to the conclusion that the reason you struggle to go to God in quiet time or prayer or reading the Bible is because you don't think he likes what he sees in you and your life, because how we think someone views us determines how we go to them.

I'm going to go with one more effort to try to prove this to you with a story near and dear to our household. I have three kids. Weston is 2-1/2, Presley is 8, and Finley is 6. I've noticed how when they're hurt they don't want Daddy. Just yesterday, Weston is swinging around this plastic bat in the kitchen, he hits his finger on the cabinet, and he just screams in pain. His face drops, he smashed his finger, and he screams in pain.

I'm right there like, "Hey, come here, buddy," and he walks right past me, "Mama! Mama!" screaming for Monica. If I'm honest, what I was thinking, what I was about to tell him was, "Hey, buddy. That's what you get, man. Daddy told you not to swing the bat. Can I just tell you once again how wise your daddy is and how foolish you are when you don't listen to me?" I want to make everything a teachable moment. Monica doesn't do that. "Hey, come here, buddy. Let me make it okay."

He's learned in his 2-1/2 years of life from experience that he prefers that. That's what he wants. He'd rather not the object lesson and just be comforted. He will go through great effort to pass me, who was about to tell him he shouldn't have done what he did, to get to the one who's going to comfort him, because the way you believe someone views you determines how you approach them. The reason we might not be approaching God as often or consistently as we know we should is because of what we think he sees.

This morning we're going to talk about who we are to God and how that impacts how we come to God. I'm going to be in Galatians 4. It's in your New Testament. You have the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), then Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and then Galatians. This book was written about AD 48. Paul wrote it to the church in Galatia, and if I can summarize his purpose in writing it, it would be this sentence: to reestablish the truth of freedom by grace through faith and deny the bondage of the law.

Here's why. There was this popular idea in the church of Galatia at this time that to come to God you needed to change yourself, that you would have to do some things to yourself or change your appearance so you could approach God. This was law. This was the teachings of the time of the past.

Paul is saying, "No, it's by grace through faith alone because of what Jesus did and not anything you could do to yourself. You come to God because of what he did on behalf of you through his Son." He writes this in chapter 4, verse 1: "What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave…"

Let me just pause there for a second because this is a continuation of an idea from chapter 3. The summary statement in chapter 3 is in verse 26. It says this. Listen. "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…" He's going to take that, and he's going to give us an example out of that. He said, "In Christ, everyone here who's a believer is a child of God, and you become a child of God through faith, through what you believe."

Then he says this, expounding on that idea: "What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave…" An underage child has to follow the rules just like a slave has to follow the rules. "…although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world." We're going to have to explain that.

"But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son [Jesus] , born of a woman [Mary] , born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.'" Then the summary statement in verse 7. "So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir."

An unbelievably theologically rich passage. We see lots of doctrines and lots of theologies in here. I'll give you some. You see spiritual maturity in the example of growing from an underage kid who is like a slave to a kid who, when the time is right, gets the estate. The estate is actually theirs. We'll explain that.

We see the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Spirit, working together in this passage, and then you see the doctrine of adoption, that you've been purchased for God through Christ, that God has purchased you to himself through the blood, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. Then you see who we are to God, not a slave but his child, and not just a child but an heir. He has an inheritance for us.

That's all in this passage this morning, so I'm going to attempt to explain these things. The path I'm going to take is these three points: how we come to God, who we are to God, and what we receive from God. Let's start.

How we come to God is in verses 1-3. "…as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees…" These guardians and trustees are actually talking about the law. "These are the instructions you've been given." "…until the time set by his Father." That's the time Jesus comes. "So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world."

We come to God in freedom, not by force. Do you hear that? This is extremely important to understand in your theology as you go to God, approach him in prayer, study his Word, go through spiritual disciplines… You come to God in freedom, not by force. It is an extremely confusing thing if you continue to go to God merely out of obedience and by force.

The illustration Paul gives us is a slave, who is like an underage kid, versus an adult child who owns the whole estate. See, the slave and the underage kid work for the master because they have to. The adult child works for the master because it's his estate. "Everything the master owns is mine, so I do it for my own benefit, for my own joy, and for my own pleasure, because it's mine. It's going to be mine. It is mine. It's a matter of time that's the only difference, so I work it because it's mine to enjoy." He's saying, "Their law is a guardian that leads to Jesus."

If you're confused let me explain it like this. We can all understand this because we've all experienced this. When you were in school you followed rules. When you were in school you did math for a grade. You got math homework, you took it home, and you did it for no other reason than a grade. You'd take it back and you'd get the grade to learn the math. Those were the rules. You followed the rules. If you didn't follow the rules you were in trouble.

Now you do math for your own benefit, because you have to. As you live, it's something necessary. You bump against it and you're like, "Oh, I can recall that knowledge I gained then for my own benefit." Likewise, you learned correct grammar for a grade, but now you use it to send that email at your work or wherever you're at for your own good purposes, for your own benefit.

I'll go one more with you, a little more abstract. When I was in school, it was against the rules to run with scissors. If I ran with scissors I would break the rules. The reason I didn't run with scissors is because it was against the rules. As an adult, the reason I don't run with scissors is because I see the wisdom and the love that was in that law that now leads me to life. I follow it not by command or obedience but for my own enjoyment and my own pleasure. Do you see how the law leads us to a place where we find joy in Christ?

Here's my controversial takeaway. Write this down if you so please. This is my controversial takeaway from this text I believe absolutely to be true. I weigh these words carefully. Spiritual maturity is not just knowledge and obedience but also the enjoyment of God. As Psalm 37:4 says, we are to delight in the Lord. What you once did by force you now do in freedom because it is what is best for you. It leads you to joy, life, and pleasure.

To prove this, remember the Pharisees. They had the most knowledge and obedience. The Pharisees obeyed the law to the letter. Paul said, "I'm a Pharisee of Pharisees," but they didn't have a relationship. They didn't do it out of the enjoyment of God. "Just give me the rules. Give me the rules."

Jesus' entire ministry was against these people who were hell-bound even though they were following the rules. Paul, a Pharisee, becomes a Christian, and now he begins to pursue God for his own enjoyment. "I want to know Christ and to fellowship in his suffering. I want to be like him. To live is Christ. To die is gain." You see a change. Spiritual maturity is not just knowledge and obedience but also the enjoyment of God.

Then it says in this text we're no longer slaves to the elemental forces of this world in verse 3. At a face-value reading it seems like that's sin, the elemental, spiritual forces of this world. It's not, actually. The context of the book of Galatians is talking about the law, saying, "Hey, we're no longer slaves to the law."

It gives us the context in verses 9-10, saying, "…observing the weak and miserable principles of man…" The spiritual, elemental forces of this world is man's religion over a relationship with God. "You're no longer a slave to man's religion. You now pursue a relationship with God for your own benefit, your own good pleasure, and your own enjoyment."

As a kid, in addition to being in trouble a lot, I asked, "Why?" Does anybody have a kid who asks "Why?" God has blessed me with a son who asks, "Why?" a lot to show me something. "Why? Why?"

"Hey, you need to do this."

"Why? Why, Daddy? Why, Mommy?"

I've noticed when you beat your parents to submission with this one-word question, "Why?" sometimes you'll get this response: "Because I said so." I will tell you as a parent and as a kid who lived it, that is the single least motivating response in the world. Nobody wants to do anything because someone else said so. There is something very rebellious in us that that reason is not valid.

In fact, I've purposefully intentioned to try to not say that to my children but instead to try to say this. When they're like, "Why? Why?" and I have no other response, I just say, "Because you can trust me." This is what God is saying to you. "These instructions are not just because I said so. These instructions lead you to life. You obey them because you can trust me, that I desire to give you something better than what you have without me, that I desire to lead you to life, not toward selfishness, death, narcissism, envy, jealousy, and wrath, but to life."

We don't just go to God out of obedience because we're supposed to. As we mature we come to God because we know we can trust him and he leads us to life. Why do we struggle to enjoy God? I believe first and foremost because of how we view him or, more importantly, how we feel he views us.

Let me say why this matters. Slaves hang around the master because they have to. Underage kids hang around the master because they have to. Older kids, kids of age, hang around the master because they believe there's a benefit of wisdom they can receive. They look back and they say, "Thank you for the ways you cared for me. Thank you for all you've entrusted to me and all you're going to give to me. Let me learn how to take care of it as you have." They hang around the master out of their own choice, their own decision.

When you go to God out of obedience, not pleasure, you are more a slave than a child, so we go to him in freedom, not by force. You can choose anything you want to do. You can take your Bible, lock it up in a safe, and never read it again. You can never pray for the rest of your life. You can even leave here and you can pray merely out of obedience, or you can pray seeking him, wanting to know him, and desiring a relationship with him.

Yesterday I was leaving my niece's birthday party. I was driving on the access road of 75 northbound and saw this couple outside of a car with the doors open pushing it up a hill. It was a man and a woman about 25 years of age pushing this car up a hill into a parking lot. I passed them and thought I should probably go back and help them, so I make the loop to come back around to where they are. They had just pushed it into the parking lot and just parked in the space. I thought, "Whew. Hard work's over. I even wanted to do the right thing, God." Right?

I rolled down my window and said, "Hey, is everything okay? Do you guys have a cell phone? Do you need anything?" fully expecting them to be like, "No, bro, we got it." He responds, "Actually, no. We don't have a cell phone. Here's the deal. We're out of gas. We don't have any money. I have a gas can…" I'm like, "Okay, okay. Jump in. We'll go get you some gas."

He jumps in with me and we drive northbound on the access road to a gas station. I ask him his story, tell him mine, ask him if he has a faith… We worked through that whole faith/face confusion. (Think about it.) We get to this place where I'm telling him why I've made the logical decision to trust in Christ. I've explored world religions and some cults of the world, and I've come to a place where I believe Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, and he's changed my life. I'm telling him how I've been in a situation similar to his and that he should follow Christ.

We get his gas, we go back to the car, and as I'm dropping him off he tells me he lives in Frisco. I tell him a church in Frisco and a person, a pastor, in Frisco who can maybe help him. Then he tells me he actually lives in his car in a parking lot in Frisco with his girlfriend. That's where they're living. He had been laid off. None of this would you assume just talking to him or meeting him.

I give him $20 and say, "Hey, here's $20. Here's the church. Here's a guy. Go here. Call them." I said, "Hey, you can do with this money whatever you want to do." He said, "Hey, let me tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to go get a shower, and I'm going to get a job. Listen, we're going to go to this campsite, I'm going to get cleaned up, and then I'm going to go to this interview." He begins to tell me what he's going to do with the $20.

I just say, "Hey, listen. You can do with it whatever you want. It's your $20. I don't have any accountability in your life whatsoever. Listen, you can do with it whatever you want. You can go buy two dime bags if you want. That's on you, man. If you believe I can benefit your situation, I'm willing. I'm willing to speak into it. I'm willing to tell you what you should do with that $20.

I'm willing to come and say, 'Hey, I've been in a situation similar to yours. I've lived it, I see some angles, and I think how you can maximize this $20 to find life…' but I want to be abundantly clear. You can do anything you want with it. It's yours, and there's nothing I can do to enforce any rules on you."

See, in the gospel the only law is belief. If you believe there's a God, Creator of the universe, and that he knows better than you, you're going to go to him for instruction. If you don't, you won't. If you do, you will. "God, what do I do? You know. You see everything past, present, and future. What do I do?

What you're asking me to do feels really hard, but I'm going to trust you, because I've done the other stuff. I'm going to spend as you would have me spend, save as you would have me save, give as you would have me give, love as you would have me love, talk as you would have me talk, dress as you would have me dress… I'm going to follow you because I believe it leads to life, and I'm going to do so in freedom because I believe it benefits me for my good pleasure and my enjoyment."

God replaces religion with relationship and law with love, so we approach God in freedom because we believe he gives us life. Let's go to verse 4. "God sent his Son [Jesus] , born of a woman [Mary] , born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship." That we would become his children.

We come to God as adopted, not abandoned. We come to God as adopted like his child, not abandoned by this world. What does this mean? If you have children, you know how much you love your children, and God is saying, "I made you one of those. I've purchased you. I've literally purchased you with the blood of my own flesh for you."

The gospel is often illustrated as someone giving their life for someone else, like, "Hey, if you need a heart transplant and I give you my heart, you live and I die. What a beautiful picture of the gospel." Imagine… I'll just tell you, that's a lot easier for me to do than to give you Weston's heart. That's my son. "You need a heart? Oh, man. Let me just kill my son on your behalf so you can live." That would be much more difficult for me to do. There's a picture of the gospel.

In fact, as Monica and I have wrestled with this topic of adoption, just to be very transparent with you, we continued to come back to this one struggle. Maybe some of you have struggled in this way. "Could we love someone else's kid as much as our own?" I know there are all kinds of problems with that. If you've adopted, I know they are your kid, but that's just an honest struggle. I'm just being honest. Try not to judge. I'm feeling it right now. "Can I love this other child as much as one who was born to us?"

God said, "I will allow the one who was born to me to die so you can be mine because I love you as much as him." That's what we see in this text. "I will allow my own flesh and blood to purchase you from your sin so you don't have to pay the price of the things you've done against me in your effort to run from me.

The way you've spent, the things you've looked at and indulged in, the wicked things you've given yourself to, and even the fact that you don't see them as wicked… You think, 'Hey, God is pretty lucky to have me on his team.' Jesus died for that so I can purchase you as my own." That's the gospel, that you don't have to pay for it. God gave his own to get you. Adoption.

My favorite adoption story is of a lady born in South Korea, Stephanie Fast. It's really an incredible story I heard somewhere along the way. She was abandoned for whatever reason. We don't know why. War-torn Korea… There was the Korean War in the 50s. There were hundreds of thousands of orphans on the street, and for whatever reason this young lady's mother abandoned her at 4 years of age.

I don't know if you know of a 4-year-old or you can picture a 4-year-old on the streets… That's crazy. A young woman, 4 years of age, no one to look after her, no one to care for her… She was raped at 4, beaten at 4, and tied to a water wheel and attempted to be drowned at 4 years of age on the streets, this lady.

In war-torn Korea, the reason for those things is her mother was impregnated by an American soldier, so she was biracial. Korea, at this time, was a terrible place to be biracial. There was a lot of hate toward Americans. She was called a tuigi, which is a derogatory term for a child of Satan. That was the name the streets had given her. Everywhere she'd go the only thing she would hear is, "You're a child of Satan." She contracted cholera, which was normal, so she curled up in a trash pile to die at peace by herself on the street some time between 4 and 9.

There was a Swedish Lutheran nurse walking the streets looking for orphans to bring them into this orphanage. Don't think orphanage like today. Think orphanage in war-torn Korea in the 50s, a dirt floor and a bunch of babies lying on dirt trying to be kept alive. She passes Stephanie Fast in a pile of trash, she thinks she's dead, and she walks on. This non-Charismatic Swedish Lutheran nurse describes her legs filled with concrete and she heard the audible voice of God say, "This one is mine."

She turned back, picked her up, took her, and realized she wasn't dead, but she didn't think there was anything she could do for her. She took her back to the orphanage and nursed her back to life. Stephanie lived in this orphanage until she was 9, and she describes what she looked like as not very appealing.

She said she was cross-eyed due to malnutrition, her hair was white with lice, and her body was covered with scabs, scars, and boils. At 9 years of age she weighed 30 pounds. That's like my 2-1/2-year-old. She says she had worms so bad they would crawl out of her mouth in search for food when there was nothing left inside of her to eat. That's gross. She was gross.

She remembers this couple who was coming from America to adopt a boy. When that would happen, all the girls would go to the boys to make them presentable. Nobody's looking for a 9-year-old girl with worms, lice, scabs, and boils. This couple comes looking for a boy. They pick up a boy and look at him, and they pick up another boy and look at him, and she says she remembers he was like a giant. She had never seen a giant white man like this one there.

She catches his eye, and he walks over to Stephanie Fast. He sees this little girl who is just pathetic and puts his hand on her cheek, and she says at 9 years of age she remembers hoping he would never move his hand, that she had never been touched by a man like that, but she said she responded out of instinct. Because she hated men so much, she slapped his hand away and spit in his face.

When he touched her cheek he had said something. She didn't know what, but what he had said was, "This one is mine. I wasn't looking for her, but this one is mine. Give me the one with scabs, scars, boils, lice, and worms, the one who's cross-eyed and 30 pounds at 9 years of age. I'll take that one."

This is what God says to you. You're pathetic in your sin. It's gross. If you think worms are gross… No, no. Your sin is gross, and God says, "This one is mine. Give me the materialistic one, the porn addict, drug user, alcoholic… Give me the good church kid who thinks he's good and thinks I need him. That one is mine."

I've talked to some friends who have gone through this adoption process, and they talk about this gut-wrenching questionnaire you're asked on what you're able to endure, what you're willing to take on. "Do you want a child with learning disabilities? Do you want a child with physical disabilities? Do you want a child of a different race? Do you want a child from a different country? Do you want these behavior problems?"

You're going through this… "How old?" Who adopts 9-year-olds, you know? We want babies. These are the questions you're asked along the way, and you know every choice you make is a rejection of some child out there in need, and they talk about how difficult that is, but God shows up and says, "Give me the ones the world rejected. I'll take them." That's the gospel. "The addicted ones, the broken ones, the helpless ones… I'll make them hopeful ones. I'll purchase them with my own Son."

I think when we do think of adoption we do often think babies, but it's important for me to clarify here that's not what Paul is talking about. In fact, in first-century Rome, for a season it was illegal to adopt babies. That wasn't why you would adopt anyone. You would adopt someone because of what they could do for you. You would adopt a co-laborer or you would adopt an heir.

I'll prove this to you with history. Julius Caesar did not give the empire to his son. He gave the empire to Augustus whom he adopted, whom we now know as Caesar Augustus. Then Caesar Augustus, who had a son, didn't give the empire to his son. He adopted Tiberius in his will to entrust his kingdom, to make Tiberius an heir. When he would pass on everything would go to him.

This is an adoption of adults, and the purpose of this adoption Paul is talking about is for inheritance. "I'm going to purchase you to give you something, to leave something to you." We have to kind of shake out of the adoption as we know it and think about it. God is saying, "Hey, you are not just forgiven. You are adopted."

Now he's saying, "You're not just adopted, but you are heirs." This is verses 6-7: "Because you are his sons [God's children] , God sent the Spirit of his Son [Jesus] into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir."

We come to God as his heirs. We come to God our Father, and he has an inheritance for us. We are his heirs. What does this mean? Some of you think it only means, "Well, I get to go to heaven one day." It means so much more than that. You're an heir to God.

First of all, this text tells you something profound. It says Jesus' Spirit inside those who have believed upon Jesus calls out for God what Jesus called God. Jesus called God Abba twice in the Scriptures and the Gospels. This word abba is a really interesting word. It's not a Greek word. It means father, so it's like Paul says the Spirit calls out, "Father, Father." What does that mean? Why would he write that? That's weird. Why would he put this other word?

It's an Aramaic word, and there's nothing that translates to Greek. It's like Paul says his Spirit inside of us calls out, "Father," but that's not good enough. It's something much more intimate than that. "What is the word? What is the word?" There is no word in the Greek for Abba because that's what Jesus calls him. It's something like Daddy or Papa. It's something intimate and childish. Something childish is what his Spirit calls out for him inside of you, like a child. You get to call God what Jesus, his own blood Son, called him.

Recently I got to do a destination wedding. If you're going to do a wedding, you might as well do it on the beach, right? If you guys have a destination wedding I'm your guy. I'm just teasing. We were there playing volleyball, and we returned to our chairs on the beach with some friends. We had some friends there, and we knew the couple well.

One of the friends who was there I knew from The Porch. She had gone to The Porch, and then she had left to go be a missionary in Haiti. She was a mutual friend of this couple getting married, so she was there. As we were playing volleyball she was just sitting on her chair in this yoga stance with her legs crossed Indian-style, her hands on her knees, and her eyes closed.

We walked up and my buddy says, "Are you all right?" She opens her eyes, looks up, and goes, "Yeah, just talking to Papa." I thought three things. The first thing I thought was, "That's weird. I don't do that. I don't talk to Papa. That's weird." The second thing I thought was, "This girl has a very different view of God than I do." That's clear, okay? Those are words I probably would never say: "Oh, I was just talking to Papa."

The third thing I thought, which was the most convicting thing: "I think her view of God is more correct than mine, because I've been spending time in this text where it says his Spirit inside of us calls out, 'Abba, Father.' I think she has a more accurate view of God than I do." Jesus said to come to him like a child, and I'm talking to you now, you full-grown adult, 37-year-old, 8-year-old, 46-year-old, 72-year-old, that you're to come to God like a child.

Children… I have some. They have needs. The only thing you need to come to God is need. You need to be broken and in a place where you realize you need God and you can't do it on your own. If you can do it on your own you don't need God, and good luck, but if you're in a place where you're like, "I can't do it. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Work is hard. Children are hard. Life is difficult. Cancer sucks. I have need…" The only thing you need to come to God is need.

It says those who come to him with this need… He has this place stored up for them forever, this place we know as heaven, which is really just more of God. What does it mean that we're an heir to this place, that we're heirs to God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth?

Let me ask you a question. What belongs to God? That's not rhetorical. What belongs to God? Everything. What belongs to you now as an heir? Wow. This is profound. Check this out. What belongs to God? The cattle on a thousand hills are his, and he comes to you and says, "You're my child and heir now."

Now you navigate the world very differently than the person who doesn't have God. You're going through this world… This is your world. This is where his kingdom will be, where you will worship him forever and ever and ever. A billion years from now you'll still be worshiping him, and this kingdom that has been entrusted to you now as an heir… There's a familiarity to that. Do you know what I mean about a familiarity?

I have an 8-year-old daughter. When her friends come over, every now and then they'll come up to me and they'll say, "Excuse me, Mr. Pokluda, may I please have a glass of water?" What am I supposed to say, like, "No"? No, I'm like, "Yeah, of course. Let me show you where the glasses are, young lady. Look, they're right here. Make yourself at home. Use the filtered water in the refrigerator. If you want a bottle of water, that's over here. Whatever you want. Do you want some Gatorade? What do you want?"

My kids don't do that in my house, in their house. They're like, "Dad, yo. We're out of Gatorade. Where are the Capri Suns? Come on. What are you doing? When is the last time we've been to the grocery store? Hey, the filter in the refrigerator needs to be changed." This is how they come to me. There's a familiarity to that.

I'm not trying to take out the reverence of your approaching God. The fear of God is still the beginning of wisdom, but there is a familiarity and a relationship he is pursuing with you, that you would come to him and his Spirit in you would cry out, "Abba, Father." Some of you have read this text before, right? We haven't applied it to our prayer lives or our quiet times in the Word or Scriptures, but his Spirit inside our hearts is crying out, "Abba, Father." It's this eternal blessing. It says in the Scriptures, "…the glorious riches laid up for us…"

How do we know that? Here's how we know. It says in the Scripture he's made a deposit. Any time you promise something you put down a down payment, and God's down payment was not just his Son, Jesus, but his Spirit in you. He says, "I've not just left you in this broken world to navigate it by yourself. I've given you myself to help you, that as you have need and you rely upon me I will direct you through the steps of this really broken, really difficult, really hard world.

I will help you in your marriage. I will help you in your relationship. I'll help you at work. I'll help you in your finances, but you need to need. You lean on my Spirit." God has given us this Spirit as a promise of the things to come. He's made a deposit inside of us. The price that was paid was him, and the deposit was also him.

See, our time here with God is really just a commercial of what will be forever and ever. When we go to God out of the enjoyment of God we get a glimpse of what heaven is like, that we get to enjoy God for the rest of the rest of the rest, so we come to God by the power of his Holy Spirit bringing us to him. How do we come to God? His Spirit in us crying out for him like a child in need of their parents.

In summary, you come to God in freedom, not by force; you come to God as his adopted child, not abandoned; and you come to God as his heirs with a promise laid up for you by him. It says he's given us his Spirit, so what does this Spirit do in our hearts? It cries out for God, it's yearning for God, and it's wanting him.

Now, when you want him, when you love someone… Let me ask you a question. When you enjoy someone, what do you do to spend time with them? You re-prioritize. Here's the application for us today. You re-prioritize your life to spend time with them. When someone reaches out to you whom you don't like, that's when you're like, "Uh, man, you know, sadly, I'm busy on that day. I would love to hang out, but I have to change my sock drawer and wash my hair, so I just can't…"

When it's someone you love and someone you enjoy, and they're like, "Hey, I want to spend time with you," and you're looking at a full schedule, you're like, "Yeah, that stuff will work itself out. Let's hang out. Man, I'll move some things around to spend time with you. Let's be together." We re-prioritize our lives to spend time with people we enjoy. That's true. Then it says the Spirit inside of us is directing us through this difficult world and taking us to our Father, that there's this path he leads us to that ends with us with God and in the fullness of the presence of God.

To close and to illustrate this… We just had baptism two weeks ago. It was amazing. Was that not amazing? Hundreds of people were baptized. It was amazing. That was incredible. It was a party. If you missed it this year, please, never miss it again. It was such an amazing time. My favorite addition to baptism this year was that tent that said, "Lost children." That's brilliant, because last time there was just a land mine of lost children. They go into those bounce houses and they never come out. It's just like, "Where are all the kids?"

I thought that was a great addition, particularly because of something I experienced two years ago. I was walking through baptism, you know, thousands of people, and I tripped over this 3-year-old. It was a really sad sight. He's sitting there, and he's like, "Mama! Mama!" He's crying and snotty-nosed, and his face is drenched in tears. I'm looking at him, he's just like, "Mama!" and I'm like, "Oh, are you lost, buddy? Okay, come here." He's like, "No! Stranger danger!" I'm like, "Oh, no."

I get down on his level and I'm like, "Hey, buddy, listen. No, man. I'm going to help you find your mom, okay? Are you lost?" He said, "Mama! Mama!" I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to pick you up. Please don't bite me. It's going to be okay." I come in and pick him up… By the way, just to kind of pause here a second, that's how we come to God. "Abba! Abba!"

I pick him up, and he's screaming, and I'm honestly worried for his life. He's not breathing. He's just screaming, "Mama! Mama!" It's the hyperventilating kind of crying. I'm whispering, hoping he's going to bring his voice down to hear mine, and I'm just like, "Hey, listen. I will not let you go until you're back with your mom. I'm going to hold you right here. I will not let you go until you're back with your mom. I've got you. I'm going to carry you. I'm going to hold you until we find your mom. Everything is going to be okay."

I climb up on this concrete bench out there, and I see across the parking lot this woman locks eyes with me and thinks, "There's some stranger holding my child." She runs over, I step down, I hand him to her, and they embrace. It was a beautiful sight. The first thing she does is she grabs him and wipes away all the nastiness on his face. She wipes away his tears and his snot, and they're so happy to be together again.

That's what the Spirit of God is doing in your life right now. He's holding you, and he's saying, "I will not let you go until you're back with your Father. You can go, you can wander, and you can meander anywhere you want. You keep looking at that stuff. You keep returning like a dog to his vomit, to that which is going to bring destruction on your life, but I want you to know something. I'm not going to let you go until you're back with your Father. I'm going to carry you through this broken world and be here to help you navigate this harsh, cruel place until you are back with your Father in his kingdom where you belong, a kingdom you belong to."

Do you know the first thing God does? When the Spirit comes and we're in the fullness of the presence of God, do you know what the Scripture says God does? This is very intimate language. It says he takes you like a child, he wipes away your tears, and he makes everything that's not okay okay, and not just okay, but good.

I'll read it to you from the Scripture so you don't think I'm making it up. It's Revelation 21:4. "He [God the Father] will wipe every tear from their [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…" Cancer, frustration, anger, bitterness, wrath, pornography, materialism, pride, or your sin. "…for the old order of things has passed away."

Even the things you messed up… He's like, "It's okay. Come here. It's okay. This is our kingdom. This is what was meant to be now. You're my child. I purchased you through love, replacing law with love. It's going to be okay." That's what we have laid up for us, man. That's the inheritance. We're heirs to that reality. That truth is directly from the Scripture. I can't wait, man. Let me go to Papa on our behalf.

Abba, Father, thank you for allowing us to call you something so intimate, the very thing your own Son called you. Father, would you awaken in us the Spirit that already lives there if we are yours? Father, for those of us who are in this room right now who don't have that Spirit, would you give yourself to us? Would you help us to believe upon Jesus' death and resurrection, a real-life, historical event that occurred for no other reason than to pay for our sins so we don't have to, so we could be your adopted children?

Father, for those of us who have believed upon that who have your Spirit living with us, would you awaken that Spirit, help us to hear that Spirit, be led by that Spirit, and listen to and obey your Spirit? As we go to you Word, the Bible, Father, would you please make the things of you known to us through your Spirit?

Father, thank you that we can come to you like this. Thank you for this really powerful idea of love you've given us to carry on and carry forward by which you've won us to you. Help us to live by that love, not law, and pursue relationship, not religion, for our good pleasure and our enjoyment.

He loves you, and he knows you. He knows you better than anybody else knows you. He's carrying you if you're a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ. Right now, he is giving you a Spirit to follow, and he's carrying you. He's giving you a way to navigate this harsh and broken world until you are with him in the fullness of his presence, and you will be if you are a follower of Christ.

If you've trusted in Christ, his death, and his resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins, you will be there. Not maybe. Not might. Not 99 percent sure. You will be there, the Scripture says. That's what he's doing. All we have to do now before that moment is listen and follow his commands not out of law but out of love, believing he knows what's better for us than we do.

If you're here and you're not a follower of Christ, that Spirit has you here intentionally. He is wooing and pursuing you. It is no accident. He desires a relationship with you, and he says, "How much do I want you as my own child? I will pay the price of my own flesh and blood to purchase you from your sin." I pray you would listen.

There'll be folks up here who would love to meet with you and pray with you. If we can follow up with you or care for you in this season, you can just fill out that Watermark News and turn in the slip in the back and we'll follow up with you this week.

I love you guys. Have a great week of worship.