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Many of us, like King Solomon, have seasons of intimacy and passion with Christ but don’t run or finish the race well. In this message Kyle Kaigler, Plano campus pastor, looks at the life of King Solomon, what led to his demise, and the principles in scripture that protect and prevent us from moving toward idol worship. He also walks us through how we deal with existing idols in our life so that God can use us significantly for His kingdom.
At Home Worship
Christmas Eve 2015
The Greatest Invitation
Making Room, Making Disciples
The Lies We Tell Ourselves
Your Trial In Heaven
Fort Worth, Here Is What We Think of You
What the Church Who Believes Is and Does
The USA: United States of Anxiety
From Intimacy to Idols
The Standard: Old Testament, Jesus and Believers
The Path to the Good Life
Nothing Short of Miraculous
Confessions From a Bathroom Stall: Lessons Learned in a Battle With Gluttony
How We Come To God
Dealing with Disappointment
The Story That Never Gets Old the God Who Is Always Behind It and the Way We Are Told to Remember It
The "One Thing"
Baptism Celebration 2015
Believing That Leads to Life
What Should I Do With My Money?
Good morning, everybody. We are glad you're here. We had a great time the first hour talking through the state of our hearts. We just got done… JP did a great series on Head Heart Hands. We are going to focus in today on the heart. We're going to pay attention especially to the heart. Erik did a great job this morning of picking that song, "Here's my heart, Lord, speak what is true." That is my prayer this morning, that we would… Palms up, hands lifted up. "Here's my heart, Lord. Speak what is true."
I got a chance a couple of months ago to speak, and one of the things I said was that as long as you live, I hope you never hear me say anything other than intimacy with Christ is the most important thing about your walk with Jesus Christ. It's the most important thing. If you're in a Bible study meeting with me or an External Focus meeting with me and you hear me say something else, rebuke me, because your intimacy, your abiding, your remaining, your dwelling… All of the synonyms the Scriptures use say that's what really matters.
King David in Psalm 27:4 says, "One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I will seek: that I will dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to dwell in his temple." King David says one thing really matters: to spend time with God and get to know his character and his plan and what he wants for your own heart, for our community, and for our world.
There are a couple of other places in Scripture. We go into the New Testament in Luke 10:38-42. You're probably familiar with the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus is coming to town, and Martha is running around all over the place making preparations for Jesus coming to town, and Mary is sitting at the Lord's feet, listening to him. I'm a little bit of a Martha in my life, so I would have done probably what Martha did. I would have gone over and said, "Hey, Jesus. My sister is slacking. She's not helping. What's up with that?"
Jesus says a really interesting thing. He just says, "Mary has chosen the one thing that really matters: sitting at the Lord's feet, listening." We spent some time a couple of months ago talking about that's the thing. When you put intimacy with Christ first in your life, great things happen. You're more effective in your ministry, in how you lead your family, in how you lead ministry you've been given to do, how you love people.
It also helps us as a church, because the more we are yielded to God's plan for us, the more our collective church can be impactful in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our communities, and in the world. So intimacy with Christ really matters. Anytime you get to spend time with me, that's what you'll hear. I care about how you are doing in your relationship with Jesus, but there's a problem.
Most of us know people who in their lives have started off incredibly passionate in their walk with Christ. Maybe that's you. Maybe that was high school. Maybe that was college, young adult, marriage. There have been seasons where you have had great intimacy with Christ, but now something has happened. You've drifted or you've coasted or there has been some habitual sin that has taken you out of intimacy with Christ.
So we're going to talk today about what happens, how you move from an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ to a place of idol worship. When I say "idol worship," don't think gold Buddha on the fireplace. When I say "idol worship," I'm talking about anything you find life in apart from your relationship with Jesus Christ. What happens is many of us have moved from this place of intimacy to idols.
There is a headline character in the Scripture who characterizes intimacy to idols. Some of you already know who I'm talking about. The guy's name is Solomon. This past spring, in our men's Bible study, we studied the book of Ecclesiastes, and it was great. I would encourage you after you get home today or tonight, tomorrow, or in the next couple of days, read 1 Kings 3-11, because what it does is gives you an overview of Solomon's life.
Then if you read Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Proverbs (Solomon wrote a bunch of the proverbs), you get a very holistic, complete picture of Solomon's life. You'll find that when Solomon was young and when the kingdom got handed to him after his father David left the throne, the man was passionate and on fire for the sake of God. Look at what the Scripture says in 1 Kings 3:7-12. As I read it to you, just try to picture Solomon's heart and what's going on.
"Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn't know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?" Look at what God says.
"The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, 'Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!'"
Solomon in humility says, "I have no shot to manage your people, the nation of Israel, without your help. God, give me wisdom," and God says, "I'm going to give it to you. I'm going to give you a ton of it." As a matter of fact, wisest guy in the history of the world besides Jesus. Solomon had it, and he was passionate.
If you read through 1 Kings, you find out he was the one who was selected to build God's temple so that God's presence could dwell with the people of Israel. So Solomon builds this amazing temple, and in 1 Kings, chapter 8, there is a chapter and a half of this prayer that is just unbelievable. You see Solomon's heart for the Lord and for the people and for their sin and repentance. I mean, he's on fire for the Lord. He has an intimate relationship with the Lord.
But as you go on, in chapters 9-11, things start to drift. The way I think about this is there are three W's that caused Solomon to drift. The first one was wealth. If you go read that, you're going to find out there are a couple of chapters where he had more stuff than anything you could imagine. I mean, the laundry list is disgusting of the amount of gold and silver and things he had, and you start to see that that wealth becomes important to him.
The second W we're going to call wheels. Solomon, like many of you, has a little desire for cars or trucks or boats or things like that. They didn't have those things back then, so Solomon's deal was chariots and horses. He had thousands and thousands, and interestingly enough, he bought all of those from Egypt (that's important). He went to Egypt and bought all of those. He put them in all of the military cities that were there to protect Israel. So he accumulated way more than he needed.
The third W was women. God had been very clear. "Do not marry, do not interact with women from nations who don't follow the Lord. Don't intermarry with pagan nations." Let's take a peek at 1 Kings 11:2-3 and see what happened. "The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, 'You must not marry them [the pagan nations], because they will turn your hearts to their gods.' Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord."
Now at first blush, all you guys are thinking, "Yes!" But can you imagine trying to care for and love 1,000 women? It's crazy, and it's what led him to lose his kingdom. Wealth and wheels and women began to sneak into Solomon's life, so that intimate, passionate relationship he had with the Lord now is beginning to turn to idol worship. Then there is one of the most tragic passages in all of Scripture a little bit later in 1 Kings 11:9-11.
"The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice [in dreams]. He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord's command. So now the Lord said to him, 'Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants.'"
Solomon, who had this intimate relationship with the Lord, starts drifting and coasting into idol worship, and eventually it cost him his kingdom. One of the great days in Watermark history (some of you may have been there) was years ago… Todd was talking about something about this, and he brought out a white Siberian tiger cub. He just carried it out onstage. He was kind of messing with it, and the whole crowd goes, "Aww! Isn't that so cute? Aww!"
Todd, in the way that he can, gently and lovingly rebuked all 3,000 people and said, "People, in four months, this Siberian white tiger will eat you." His point was Solomon messed with these little pet sins. It says in 1 Kings, chapter 3, that early on he married an Egyptian woman. So he had these pet sins or these small sins he let grow in his life to the point where, later in his life, God said, "I am going to rip the kingdom out of your hands," and it's tragic.
What I want to do today is I want us to take a look and understand what happened in Solomon's life and talk about how we can avoid that sin or that transition that takes place from intimacy to idols. Whenever you read your Scriptures, sometimes you'll notice in your study Bibles that next to the passage you're reading there's a bunch of small little print that has a bunch of different Bible verses. They're called cross-references. Pay attention to those. They matter when you're studying your Bible.
Years ago, I was studying Solomon's life, and next to one of the passages I was reading it said "Deuteronomy 17:14-20." I'm like, "What in the world does Deuteronomy have to say about Solomon's life?" I thought, "Okay, let's go check it out." So I went to Deuteronomy. What you find is in the first two or three verses there's a warning, because Moses is saying…
This is 500 years before Solomon takes the throne. Moses is prophesying. "One of these days, Israel, you're going to want a king. Pick the right king, and make sure he doesn't do these things," and then he says, "Here are the things he should do." So let's look at what God was saying through Moses 500 years before Solomon. We'll start in Deuteronomy 17:16.
"The king must not build up a large stable of horses for himself or send his people to Egypt to buy horses, for the Lord has told you, 'You must never return to Egypt.'" Whoops. "The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord." Whoops. "And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself." See three W's there? Wealth, wheels from Egypt, and women.
Moses is saying to the people of Israel, "Don't let your king do that, because it will bring destruction on you." Then Moses goes on to say, "Here's the prescription. Here's how you can prevent that." "When he [Solomon] sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests."
Do you get it? Moses is saying, "That king needs to sit down and have one of the Levitical priests sitting over his shoulder, watching him read and study and write down God's Word. That's how you can prevent what's going to happen to Solomon." "He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives." One of the only places in Scripture that talks about how often you ought to spend time with God. Daily spend time.
"That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel."
So what is the first prescription for not moving from intimacy to idols? It is daily in God's Word or let's say regularly in God's Word. If you want to protect yourself, if you want to protect your ministry from losing its power, you have to be in God's Word on a regular basis. I'm not talking about… If you don't read the Bible regularly right now, don't walk out of here saying, "Man, tomorrow, an hour and a half for me in God's Word."
I'm just saying, "Hey, start." It may be 5 or 10 minutes a day. Jointhejourney.com. It's not too late. We're halfway reading through all of the Scripture this year. We'd love for you to sign up and get on a reading plan, because that daily reading will protect you from the very things it talks about that it would protect Solomon from. But Solomon didn't do that. Solomon didn't stay daily in God's Word. He didn't have the Levitical priest looking over his shoulder, and it cost him. The kingdom got ripped out of his hands because he didn't do that.
There's one other thing we need to talk about that Solomon didn't do. He neglected God's Word. He also neglected the sin in his life. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life." Pay attention to your heart, because it determines the course of your life. Those are the things we want to talk about today. How do we make progress? How do we grow in God's Word, but also, how do we pay attention to our hearts?
There are folks who are here in the audience today who have struggled with what we would call the societal biggies. Don't drink. Don't do drugs. Don't be addicted to this and that. Don't have an affair. Don't do that kind of stuff. There are people in here who have struggled with those things. Grace abounds for you. Forgiveness abounds for you through the cross of Jesus Christ. If you're in a place where those sins, the ones we call the societal biggies… If those have captured your heart and you can't break free, you have a heart problem. Get help.
If those things dominate your life and you can't break free and you keep "willpowering" it and it's not working, you have a heart problem. Get help. A bunch of other people in this room are like, "Phew! He didn't talk about mine." There are the secret, subtle sins that our society says are okay and they don't see that are absolutely just as damaging as the addiction to the ones society says don't do. I'm just going to read a few to you, and I want you to do a little self-examination as I run through these things.
The reality is they all, whether it's the biggies or the subtle biggies, separate us from God and hinder our ability to be used by God. Let's just start with a few. How do you do with truthfulness? Being truthful 100 percent of the time. Are there times on the phone when you tell a little white lie to get out of a hard conversation? Are there times when you fudge on your tax return? "Oh, I don't think I'm going to include that."
Truthfulness is a really big deal to God, but nobody sees that. Nobody makes a big deal about it, but it still separates us and hinders our ministry. How about your anger? When you're at work or out in public and other people see you, you're the sweetest, kindest, most tender, patient person ever, but you get behind closed doors and you have a short fuse. Or in my case, I give off a countenance like "Don't mess with me." I don't have to say anything, but my countenance says, "Hey, this is my time. Don't you mess with me." That separates and hinders.
How about your tongue? How about tone and word choice? What's the body language around what you're saying? How do you do at taming the tongue? How about gossip? Are there times when you think, "Hey, I have this little piece of information, and I think if I let this thing slip they'll think I'm pretty cool or I have power within this organization or I know a secret," or you know something about somebody that you share with an inappropriate group of people.
Folks, those things, although society doesn't know about them, separate and hinder the ministry we have. One of the things that's going on in our culture, I think, as our culture continues to move morally away from the Judeo-Christian ethic, is a lot of moms and dads are moving into this high control thing. We see this a lot. Even at our house, Tresha and I talk a lot about, "Are we overparenting our children?" I see this.
Because our society is scary and we don't want anything to happen, we're going to protect our kids. What happens is we keep our kids from developing a heart for adventure and a heart to be passionate and a warrior for God's kingdom because we want to keep them in this little bubble so they don't get exposed to the world. Look. There's wisdom and balance when you do that, but there is a lot of high control, and that's sin, and that separates and hinders our ministry.
How about social media stuff? Can you imagine if we put a clock on the amount of time all of us are on social media-type stuff and how much of that is a waste of time that could be used for developing intimacy with the Lord or for serving other people? Not using your time well can be sin, and it can separate us. So whether your deal is the biggies or these subtle sins, you have a heart problem. Get help.
Did you guys read the news this week about Ashley Madison? Ashley Madison is a website that allows married people to have affairs. That's basically what you do. They profess confidentiality. There are 37 million people on this website. They came out this week and said, "Hey, we hacked you," and they released two profiles of a couple of folks that had all their junk in it. It had all their information, but it also had all of their fantasies and things like that in there. How would you like that to be out there? There is a panic going on.
That's one of those societal biggies. Thirty-seven million people on that site. So, folks, whether it's one of those biggies, whether it's one of the ones people don't see, it separates us from God. It hurts our intimacy. Let me tell you a little bit about my life. Anytime my marriage is not going well it's typically around one particular thing, and that is Tresha has said for many years, "Hey, Kyle, I would love for you to use a little more lavish language when we talk."
All you ladies know the last thing you want to do to your husband is give him the script. "Here's what I want you to say. I want you to tell me how beautiful I look. I want you to tell me thank you for all that stuff." That is a struggle for me. I didn't have it modeled as a kid, but Tresha has been saying it for a long time. A few years ago she had said it, I didn't respond, said it, I didn't respond. I was hard-hearted in this area, so she calls the guys in my Community Group and says, "My house, 7:00. Be there."
So my boys show up in my living room, and for an hour or so, Tresha kind of cries her way through. "Hey, I'm trying to help my husband love me, and he is not listening and paying attention." So my boys got after me on that. Here's the problem. I've made some progress but not nearly as much as I need to. Here's the crazy thing. I love my wife. I'm crazy about her. I think she's beautiful. I love the sacrifices she makes for our family. She's hot. She is awesome.
So my heart has all the right things. I love her, I care about her, but I can't get the words out. I have a heart problem. I need to get help. For those of y'all who know me, you know that for the last 15 or 20 years, food has been an issue for me. Until I was about 30 or 35 my metabolism was up and I could eat anything I wanted to and not gain a pound or whatever. Since that changed, I have been on this 15-year journey trying to control my health. It's not so much about weight for me. It's just eating healthy.
I wake up in the morning. I know the right thing to do. I know I need to eat healthy throughout the day. God is clear about that. I get up, jump on the scale, and then I move through breakfast, and I've done well. I move through lunch, and I've done well. I move to 5:30, 6:00, or 6:30, get home, and grab a snack. A lot of times it's healthy; it's just gargantuan.
Then an hour later we eat dinner, and I typically eat healthy as a general rule there, but then that 9:30, 10:30 time comes around, and that big ol' bowl of Cap'n Crunch and milk is looking good. Milk, cookies… I kind of help myself. It's an area of my life that controls me. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it, how much I want to eat of it, when I want to do it. That's what I want, but I know the right thing to do. I have a heart problem. I need to get help.
There are other things. One of my other issues is that I can emotionally disconnect from situations. In the Scriptures, the word compassion means suffer together with somebody else, and either out of self-protection or just not wanting to get involved, I can pull back and say, "Don't want to do that." Then I go and read the Scriptures and look at the heart of Jesus for how compassionate he was for people, and I know the right thing to do. It's what I want to do.
I want to connect emotionally with people. I want to suffer together with those people, but I can't. I'm not growing like I should be growing in that area. I have a heart problem. I need help. I could keep going, and if Tresha was up here she'd keep going. Here's the deal. Starting next month, I'm starting re:generation. I'm going to spend the next year for 30 to 45 minutes, six days a week, working, paying attention, examining this wicked heart and what it is about my life that doesn't allow me to get over those hurdles in my life, because I'm stuck in some of those areas.
God is growing me in all kinds of ways, and I'm making a little progress in there, but I'm not making the progress I want. I'm leaving ministry on the table. I'm leaving connection with my wife and my girls on the table. There's more there, and I can't get to it. So whether it's an obvious biggie that society says to stop, whether it's a little one, we have heart problems. We have these little idols, these little tiger cubs that are going to become tigers and eat us. They're going to rip the kingdom from our hands if we don't begin to deal with them.
A little bit of my story is when I was growing up, I was a sinner separated from God. At the age of 15, by God's grace, he called me to himself. I became a believer, and God forgave me for my sin and set me as a forgiven, righteous man by his grace. Righteous doesn't mean… He sees me as righteous. It doesn't mean I'm perfect. He has given us everything we need to live a life of godliness, of ministry, to be impactful for him. But do you know what I do? I go to the Diaper Genie.
Twenty years ago, when my girls were babies, this Diaper Genie came out, and we thought it was the greatest thing ever. Most of you all know Diaper Genies. You stick a diaper in there. You don't have to worry about the smell because the little bags smell good. Twenty diapers a day when the twins were really young (they were premature), so we thought that was great…until somebody had to empty the Diaper Genie.
The one we had was kind of an old-school Diaper Genie. We would fight over who had to empty the Diaper Genie, and my wife would say, "Kyle, I'm nursing twins. Get your tail out there and empty the Diaper Genie." So I'd take it and pull it out. Remember this? This is what it looked like. Here I am. I'm saved by God. He has given me everything we need for a life of godliness and righteousness, and yet I choose to put this on.
I choose to take these either big sins or subtle sins and wear them and hang them around my neck and drag them around. They stink, and they're heavy, and they're a pain. It hurts my intimacy with God and keeps me from being all God wants me to be. This looks silly, right? Me onstage wearing a bunch of small or big sins. It's not what God created us for, but we wear it and drag it around with us, and God is saying, "You can be free from all of that stuff." Look at Hebrews 12:1-2, a familiar passage for some of us.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne."
"The sin that so easily entangles us." There are consequences if we don't deal with the (pardon my French) crap we put in our lives. Do you want to know what they are? One is the kingdom gets ripped from your hands. I am one bad decision away from losing everything I have…my wife, my kids, the ministry God has given me over the last 30 years.
If I stay up late one night, 12:30 or 1:00 in the morning, and I happen to go to the wrong channel, and I sit there and watch it and engage in what's going on, that could be the top of the slide for me. I'd do it the next night and the next night, and all of a sudden the kingdom gets ripped from my hands. It happens really quickly. That can happen if we don't take care of the sin we're talking about.
The second thing that happens is you get hurt. There's pain for you. There's also pain for others. Some of you all who are approaching empty nest or have an empty nest know it gets really hard once your kids go to college to get everybody back together. Two weeks ago, we captured three or four days to be in Colorado where we had all five of us together. I have three daughters. We were all together.
One night I just said, "Hey, we have to have a state of the union of the family. How are you? How are you? How are you? Everybody okay? What's happening?" We've had a really tough year. I would have thought starting the church in Plano would have been the toughest part of our year. It has been a ball doing this with you, but there are some other things that have been in our world that have been difficult this year.
So we were sitting and talking, and I started tearing up with my girls. I said, "Hey, I need to confess something to you." I just said, "I know we've been having a ton of conversations around our family around discernment, what you read, what you watch, what you look at, all of those kinds of things, and I need to confess to you that when y'all were growing up I watched things on TV, Friends, The Big Bang Theory, things like that, that have sexual innuendos all over them, and I did not model discernment for you, and now you are paying the price for some of that. Will you forgive me?"
My girls are awesome. They said, "Absolutely, Dad. We'll forgive you." We talk about that as a family. We ask, "How do we do that?" because it's a struggle for all of us to discern with the way our media is these days. Your kids will seldom do what you say. They will always do what you do. I had to own my junk with my kids. So you and others get hurt. I'm in a situation right now with a great buddy of mine who came to Christ through a ministry I led years ago.
He ended up going and getting discipled in other places, came back, started a church, on staff, elder, but he had some stuff in his marriage he didn't deal with early on, so now I've been part of a team of people who are trying to love them, but we've had to ask him to step down from being an elder. We've had to ask him to step down from being on staff, and he's fighting like crazy. They're fighting like crazy for the health of their marriage. The kingdom gets ripped from you if you don't deal with the stuff we have.
Here's the last thing. Second Timothy 2:21-22 says, "Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [the sins we've been talking about] , he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."
Folks, we have dreams and visions for this place, Watermark Plano, Watermark Church at all three campuses, to revolutionize the way people love Jesus and love others. We want to be a city set on a hill. We want to be a light for our community, and if we don't take care of this stuff, if we don't deal with it personally, it's going to hinder our usefulness. It's going to hinder what God wants to do with us. So one of the motivations for me to start re:gen is I don't want to hurt you guys. I don't want to limit what God can do in and through us at this place.
I hope you all ask the question, "Hey, am I a clean vessel the Lord can use?" If not, ask for help. You have a heart problem. Me too. I pray all the time, and I don't think this is an arrogant prayer… I pray, "God, I want our church to be great for the sake of your kingdom. Father, would you help us to be a key cog in the advancement of what you're wanting to do?" I talk all the time about there are two R's. We're either going to lead a revival or we're going to be the remnant the Scripture talks about. We can't do that if we're not paying attention to our own hearts.
So let's talk about how we do this. We've identified and talked about the consequences. Let's talk about how we take advantage of this, what we do about this. How do we deal with these idols? Go back to Hebrews 12:2. "We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith." The way you start to deal with these things is you do a hard focus on your relationship with Christ.
In that abiding with Christ, in that remaining and dwelling with Christ, when it says, "Pray in the Spirit…" All of those things are synonyms for us growing in our relationship with Jesus. The power to transform your life comes from the growing of your relationship with Jesus. If you walk out of here and say, "By golly, I'm going to white-knuckle and willpower this thing in my life, this little cub I have right now," it's not going to work.
The power comes from the daily abiding with Christ. That's where the power to change, to transform comes from. I would love for us to grow. Here's a growth area for you. Grow in your ability to identify sin in your life. We don't ever talk about that, but that's a good thing, that you pay attention to your heart. So the first thing you want to do is fix your eyes on Jesus and grow in that intimate relationship with Christ.
The second thing you want to do… This may be new for a lot of you, but there is a practice of confession and repentance that happens on a daily basis. It's not just on a Sunday. It's not just when you're in a prayer meeting. It's not just when you pray at your Bible study. Confession and repentance is something that also ought to be happening daily. Lying in your bed for two minutes before you go to sleep… "God, where did I miss it today? Who was I frustrated with? God, will you forgive me? What amends do I need to make? Who do I need to go talk to?"
If you're practicing confession and repentance every day, it's going to keep you humble. It's going to remind you that you're not God. It's going to remind you that you're not in control. It's going to remind you that you're a sinner and you're separated from God, apart from his grace to help you transform. How you practice confession and repentance every day… There are really four things.
First, you have to ruthlessly inspect and examine your life. Ruthless is in there on purpose, because we love to fool ourselves and tell ourselves we're doing better than we're really doing. We're going to do a couple of songs at the end. When we sing, I hope you'll use that time to say, "Okay, God, show me where my heart is not for you. What areas of my life are hindering our relationship?"
Secondly, you have to fall on your knees. I mean that literally and figuratively. Not many of us anymore, I don't think, fall on our knees, but it's a physical position of humility, saying, "I'm not in control. God, I don't have it together. Would you come?" The principle is you have to cry out to God and ask for help in a desperate, daily dependence for God to change and transform you. Fall on your knees.
Thirdly, you have to tell somebody else. This is the scary part and the hard part. If you have one of those pet sins in your life and it's still a mystery, it has power. The power comes out, as the Scripture says, when you confess it to one another. Hiding that sin, hiding that mystery, hiding that secret does nothing but build power to hurt you. Confession gives you freedom to grow and to make progress in that area.
The last thing you do, and it's not easy, friends… If you think you can just practice these four easy little steps and you're going to be good and those idols are going to be gone, they're not. They're deep. At least mine are. They have deep roots because I've been doing them for a long time. There is a transforming work of God that has to be done, and God tells us how to do it in Luke 9:23-25.
"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower…'" If you want to be a follower of Jesus, you must turn from your selfish ways. Some of the other translations say deny yourself. "…take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?"
That whole "deny yourself and take up your cross…" That's not easy, because my flesh says, "Do what you want when you want for how long you want." Denying myself means not being led around by my feelings. Denying myself means not being led around by what the culture says is the right thing to do. Folks, there's work to do here, but it's not your work; it's a yielding. It's not willpower; it's you yielding to what God is asking you to do. Deny yourself. Take up your cross daily. Give up your life. Sacrifice your life.
My heart is that your intimacy with the Lord would grow because of our time today, that you would make progress, that you would hear from God, that you would understand his plan, but I know for a lot of us, me included, we have these little things we still haven't yielded to in our lives. I want to just challenge you. We're starting re:gen here at Plano, so if you're stuck, if you have these things in your life you haven't been able to make progress on or they still control you…your hurts, habits, and hang-ups…will you join me?
I have a heart problem, and I need help. You have a heart problem, and you need help, and I would love for you to join me. Re:generation is really just a 12-step recovery program, and that's a fancy way to say it's just a discipleship process. That's all it is. You're spending time in God's Word, talking about sin, salvation, grace, God's mercy and forgiveness. That's what it is.
If you show up Monday night… The first couple of months will be at the Dallas Campus when we're doing some of the pre-work that has to be done, but then by the time you get through those first 8 to 12 weeks, the closed groups will be up here at the Plano Campus, and we'll do that until we get a big enough group to start the re:gen large group up here, if you're familiar with the way it works.
I would love for us to be committed to our recovery. We all need recovery. One of the things we say on our staff all the time is the healthiest people in our church are the people in re:generation and re|engage, because they know they have a problem and they are applying God's grace and mercy to their lives in order to make progress.
The worship team is going to come out. We're going to do a couple of songs. We're going to do "Take My Heart" again. I pray that you would just reflect on God's grace and God's goodness, and then we're going to do one more song that's called "Lead Me to the Cross," and the reason we chose that song is that's where it happens. When Jesus died, we got the Holy Spirit. We have a divine ability to overcome these pet sins or the sins that society says are not okay. Small, big, little, whatever you want to call them…they all separate us and hinder what God wants us to do. Let's pray together.
Father, I just ask that you would help us, that you would give us wisdom, Lord. Would you give us courage? Father, it's hard to pay attention to these things in our hearts that we're not excited about, we're hurt by, embarrassed by. Father, would you help us to understand the consequences, that the kingdom could get ripped from our hands if we don't deal with them, that we get hurt and others get hurt? Help us to deal with them. Lord, give us courage.
Father, we recognize today that we can't do it on our own. We can't white-knuckle it, willpower it. We can't do enough steps to do it apart from the grace of God to transform lives, to transform my heart, our hearts. Father, our heart's desire is to be used greatly for the sake of your kingdom, to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ all throughout the world. Father, would you help us? Would you make our church great for the sake of your kingdom? Father, we need your help. We need you. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
If you walk out of here today convicted about your sin, good. If you walk out of here carrying guilt and shame, stop it. You can go out, enter that lobby out there, have fun, engage. I'm going to eat lunch with some friends, even though I know I have some progress to make. The cross of Jesus Christ is how we're going to change, so we can walk out of here knowing that we're saved, that when God looks at us he sees us as his. We're his children. Love is poured out on us.
So take that conviction, if that's what you're feeling, and use it to help you grow, but let that shame, that guilt, go. That's not from the Lord. That will hinder you this week. If you're interested in jumping into re:gen with a bunch of us, you can just tear off the sheet in your Watermark News. If you're here… I was talking today about intimacy to idols, and you're not sure what I'm talking about when I say an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
We have folks up here. We'd love to talk to you. We'd love to pray with you. If you're wrestling with a secret or a mystery and you need to tell somebody, let's talk about it. We'd love to help you, and there will be folks down here to help you do that. Have a great week of worship.