Practicing our faith when things are good in our life helps us face challenges in life.

Jud Wilhite
Jul 1, 2018    38m
In this sermon Pastor Wilhite discusses what it means to be blessed in our spiritual life. He explains that how we practice our faith and worship during the blessed times of our lives, can help determine how we cope when we face challenges in life. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Announcer: 00:02 Today's speaker is an author, and senior pastor of Central Church in Las Vegas. With over 12 locations nationally, and internationally, it's one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America. He is a best selling author of several books, and his teachings can be heard on K-Love radio. Cornerstone, please welcome to the stage, Jud Wilhite.

Jud Wilhite: 00:25 Alright, Cornerstone. Nice to see you guys. What an honor to be here with you. I want to welcome each of the locations, San Tan, at Scottsdale, and online location. Thank you guys for being here with us. And Man, I love your pastor. I Love Pastor Linn, and Lisa, and their family, I'm so grateful for them. But this church, the incredible impact you're having not only here, but really all over the world. It's awesome. It's awesome. You are blessed. You're blessed.

Jud Wilhite: 00:56 And I want to talk to you today, about what it means to be blessed in our lives. You know, we're heading into kind of independence day weekend, Fourth of July. You probably hear some people say you know, I'm blessed, blessed to live in this country blessed to be free There's a lot of ways we throw the word blessed around, right? A lot of ways we use it. We often say, bless you when somebody sneezes, you know, which is kind of gross when you think about it, but people were like, God bless you. How many of you say bless you when somebody sneezes, you're a bless your person, a lot of bless you people. When I started dating my wife, Lori, I didn't grow up in a home that said bless you, and I remember we're sitting there and she sneezed and she doesn't just sneeze once, like she's not a single sneezer. It's always like a machine gun of sneezing. How many of you never sneeze once. You know what I'm talking about? Like it's multiple sneezes that are happening here, it comes in multiples. So she sneezes, multiple times, and then when she's done she just sitting there. And I can tell she's getting more and more frustrated. Like I can feel the vibe in the room, not going my way, and I remember I'm sitting there and I'm like what's wrong? Why? You seem frustrated, you seem flustered, and she goes, well, I just sneezed. Didn't you hear me? I said, yeah, I heard you. She says, aren't you going to say bless you? And I'm like, I wasn't going to say bless you. And then she goes on to communicate like bless you communicates empathy, and love, and compassion, and that's what you're supposed to say to somebody when they sneeze. And I grew up in a home where when somebody sneezed, you just got disinfectant. You know, you ran out of the room, got the disinfectant, came back in, and sprayed. You didn't say bless you. So I'm looking at her. I'm like, you get all that from bless you. She says, yes, I do. It's very important me. Now I've learned in marriage, after over 20 years, you can be right or you can be happy, but you can't be both. So I say, bless you all the time now. I'll hear all the way across the house, bless you.

Jud Wilhite: 03:00 My mom was from the south, and in the south they say, bless your heart, right? Any of you been from the south? You had, bless your heart. Bless your heart, in the south, is really code for you're not so smart. I mean it is. You know, people say you wait, you go to the south, and you'll walk into. Oh honey, oh, oh, bless your heart. You're the dumb one, aren't you? Bless your heart.

Jud Wilhite: 03:34 We see the phrase blessed, #blessed on social media, that's another way we use the word bless or blessed, and we see it popping up all over the place on social media. Often in like different kinds of ways, and sometimes you know, silly ways. People will be like, hey, I found an open parking space at the restaurant, you know, #blessed. Okay hey, I got a new car. Here's my car, you know, #blessed, right? Hey, you know, I'm going on a awesome date with this person, #blessed. You know, I scored tickets to this concert, #blessed. One guy like, hey, I dropped my sandwich from the table and I caught it before it hit the ground, #blessed. Okay...

Jud Wilhite: 04:16 What does it mean from a biblical perspective to be blessed? What does it mean to be blessed in our lives? Well, I would suggest, from a biblical perspective, that to be blessed means to have God's divine favor working in your life. To be blessed is to have God's favor working in your life. Now, a lot of us would say, we're already blessed. We're blessed with freedom, we're blessed that we were able to get up this morning, we're blessed to be able to walk, move, drive, get here, eat, drink, sleep, we're blessed to be able to sit in church. If you're a follower of Jesus today, you're blessed, because through faith in Christ, you've received forgiveness of sins, you're blessed because you are in a relationship with God, you're blessed because his spirit fills you. Right? You're blessed already. Turn to the person next to you and say, I'm blessed, I am blessed. We are blessed, but how many of you wouldn't mind being even more blessed?

Jud Wilhite: 05:14 See that's me. I'm like, I'm blessed already, I get it, I'm blessed. I'm thankful, I'm content, but I wouldn't mind even being more blessed. So are there things that we can do to position ourselves in such a way that we could be even more blessed by God, and I think there are. I want to talk to you about some of those things today, and to sort of set up the conversation. I want to look at a story in John 3, where Jesus has an encounter with a man named Nicodemus. In John Chapter 3:1, we will bring this up on the screens here in just a minute. John 3:1, Jesus encounters Nicodemus. Nicodemus had a lot of clout. He had a lot of power. He was a religious leader. And when you think about this Nicodemus, he would have been like a mixture of a Harvard professor, a senator, and a pastor all in one. He had money, wealth, influence, power, pedigree, credentials. He was a huge influence in the Jewish culture as a religious leader. And some scholars think, that in John Chapter three, it's pretty early in Jesus' ministry. Then when Jesus talks to Nicodemus, from an earthly standpoint, Jesus is actually talking to the most influential person he's ever talked to in his ministry to date. And Nicodemus comes to him at night. So let's check it out. John Chapter 3:1, it says, "There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. Rabbi, he said, we all know that God has sent you to teach us that your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you." Now, first of all, he shows up and he says rabbi to Jesus, he calls him teacher, a word of respect. Which here's the guy with all the credentials, saying to Jesus who has no credentials, Rabbi, we believe God sent you to teach us. Now, what I think is fascinating is Nicodemus comes at night, probably people say, because he's not really willing to risk his reputation by going to see Jesus during the day. So he goes at night when nobody can kind of see him, and notice that he's visiting with Jesus. But he's still hungry from God. In other words, Nicodemus does not let his success materially, spiritually, and another ways, take away his hunger to know more of who God is, and what God's doing. And he seeks out this unique special religious teacher, rabbi, and he goes and sees him.

Jud Wilhite: 07:33 First principle, if you want to stay blessed in your life, is simply this to stay hungry, stay hungry. What I mean is to stay hungry spiritually. Now it's football season it is right around the corner. How many of you love football? Any football people out there. All right, Football people. Yeah, yeah, yeah, now I'm a Dallas cowboys fan. I'm sorry to those of you that you know, just always have been. You know, it is, what it is. But here's the deal, the Cowboys love them or hate them...we've only won two playoff games in over 20 years. It has been a long winter of our discontent. And so, we're getting rid of all of our receivers apparently in the off season. So I'm sitting around and I'm like, man, if we don't have a running game, we could be in real trouble this next year. And so I found myself recently sitting down at my computer and I googled the name of Dallas Cowboys, number one star running back Ezekiel Elliot. And this is what I googled, Ezekiel Elliot off season. Because I want to know what is Ezekiel Elliott doing in the off season? Last year he came in a little heavier than normal. You know, he didn't quite have the year he had before. A lot of issues going on there. Like, what's he doing? Is he kicking it at Krispy Kreme, or is he working out? You know, like is he in the Bahamas? It's off season baby, or is he like in the grind? I want to know. So I pulled it up, and I start looking, and it's like all different articles about how hard Zeke's working in the off season. I even found a YouTube video of him doing like this crazy leg press, and it says Zeke is hungry. I'm like, yeah, Zeke is hungry. And here's why that's good if you're a cowboys fan, because if Zeke stays healthy, and if Zeke is hungry, here's what I know. How a person trains in the off season, has everything to do with how they play in season, right? How a person deals with the comfortable season, the off season, has everything to do with how they're going to handle the difficult season on the field.

Jud Wilhite: 09:31 And the same is true in our lives spiritually. A lot of times we reach out to God when things are hard. Some of you are at church right now, you are church today because things are hard, and things are difficult, so you showed up. You know like you're going through difficulty in your marriage or in your family. You're like, I've got to get back to church. I got to take some spiritual steps in my life. I got to cry out to God again, and that's awesome, this is where you need to be. It's where you should be. Great job, well done. But don't miss this. Listen, we need to be hungry for God, not only when things are hard, but also when things are good. Not only when things are difficult, but also when things are going smooth.

Jud Wilhite: 10:09 Here's part of why, because the habits you maintain, and I maintained, in a comfortable season, will determine how we handle the difficult season. The habits we maintain in a comfortable season, will determine how we handle the difficult season. The way you train in the off season, has everything to do with how you play when you're in season. And so if you're in a comfortable season right now, if things are good, if they're going well, in other words, if God is blessing you in your life like some of you, you become a follower of Jesus. You've started to grow spiritually, you've started to see God do a work in your family and your own heart, you've started to forgive, let go of something, maybe you let go some habits or hang ups that had a grip in your life, you started to see some of your relational drama get turned down. All the sudden there's more peace. There's a little more joy in your life. God is blessing you, because you've changed some of your habits, and you've changed some of your patterns. Man, you're saving some money for the first time in years, you're being more disciplined about your spending for the first time in years. Like things are starting to go well. You're actually looking at your life, and like you've turned the drama down. Wow.

Jud Wilhite: 11:16 Now here's the danger. The danger is that now that things are comfortable, you'll start to drift, you start to drift away from church. I used to go every week, or every other week, and now you go once a month. And now you go once every quarter, and now you know you need to get back, but you just haven't been able to. You start to drift spiritually, used to pray more regularly, used to read your Bible regularly, used to continue to try to learn new things about God regularly, but now you're drifting and here's why I know this. You look through the Bible, not only have I experienced it in my own life. You look through the Bible, all through the Bible, this is the journey of the Israelite people. They were God's people. God blessed them, He called them out of slavery, He led them to freedom, He gave them purpose, meaning, joy. He gave them so many things in their lives, and then when they were blessed, they experienced the danger of God's blessing. Because they started to get complacent, and they began to drift, and again and again and again, they drifted. And then God had them go through things, to come back to God, and get on their knees again. So stay hungry for God. Here it is, Matthew 7:7, Jesus says these words, let me just read these to you. He says, "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." And then he goes on and he says, "For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." So Jesus is kind of almost giving us permission here to nag God. You see this? You know, asking, keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking.

Jud Wilhite: 12:51 Now I remember when my son came into the room, my son's 14 years old and he loves Tortellini, and so he came in and he's like, Dad, will you make me some Tortellini? And I said, no, because I'd made him tortellini the previous two nights. My wife Laura was out of town and I'm like, dude, you're on your own. I'm tired, look, I've cooked for you the last two nights. And you know, don't get the wrong idea, this wasn't like tortellini from scratch, this is just the stuff you pour in hot water from the grocery store to heat up. But even that, I'm like, I don't want to do the dishes, I don't want to do all that. Like it's going to take 10 minutes, but I'm like no, you're fine. Go make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you'll live. He comes back in like a few minutes later, come on dad, tortellini, make tortellini for me. I'm like, no, I'm not going to make tortellini for you already told you I'm not going to do it. He goes away a few minutes later again, tortellini, and I'm like, no, just leave me alone. Don't ask me again. Then my phone rings, I reached down, I answer my phone, it's my son calling me from the other room. He's like, tortellini, tortellini, tortellini. I'm like, just don't call me, no tortellini, I'm not doing it. So I hang the phone up. Then he comes crawling into the room, tortellini, tortellini. He lays down on the floor, does this swimming motion on the floor, tortellini, tortellini. And it dawns on me that I have spent 30 minutes dealing with him, I could have cooked tortellini three different times, and got to peace in my life. But instead I'm still here trying to hold my ground. So I stood up, I said, all right I'll make your tortellini. I'll make your tortellini, if you'll promise to never ask me for tortellini again in your life. And he goes, I'll never ask you for tortellini again tonight.

Jud Wilhite: 14:33 I think about that story, because he just wore me down. His persistence wore me down, he got me to a place where I finally gave in to what he was asking for it. Now I don't want to distort or twist the context of Jesus' words, but he is implying, that our hunger for God if you will, our persistence in our prayers has an impact. Asking, keep asking, seek, and keep seeking, knock, and keep knocking. Some of you have been praying for kids who've gone sideways in their lives, and they're really in a destructive season. And you know you've asked, and you've sought, and you've prayed that God would work in their life. and nothing's happened yet. And you get frustrated, and tired, and worn out, and Jesus is saying, don't give up. Don't quit. Stay hungry for God, keep seeking God, keep believing God.

Jud Wilhite: 15:15 Some of you financially have been praying for a breakthrough, and a miracle in your life. And you've asked God again and again and again, and nothing's happened yet, but just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it will never happen. Keep seeking, keep asking, keep going, hard after God in your life. Some of you are praying that God will help break an addiction in your life, a weakness that you've carried for years and years and years, and it feels like no matter how much you pray, nothing seems to happen. Well keep praying, keep seeking, keep asking. And here's what I've learned in my life, sometimes you'll come to a breakthrough, don't break faith before your breakthrough. Sometimes you will come to a breakthrough, and God will deliver on what you've persistently nagged him about again and again and again, and that's awesome. But sometimes the greatest thing that happens through those prayers, is what happens in my own heart. God changes my perception and my perspective, and even if he doesn't give me the things I'm asking for and seeking him for, he gives me something even better. He gives me a an enlarged heart for him, and a matured perspective. Those are all benefits if we'll stay hungry. You want to position yourself to be blessed by God? Stay hungry for God. Stay hungry for God.

Jud Wilhite: 16:28 God doesn't just want to partially bless your old life. A lot of people want God to bless them on their terms, right? Like they want to be like, hey man, I'm out at the club. I'm doing my thing. And they're like, God bless me, bless me, I want a hot girl. I want a cute guy, I want some more money. You know, I want a nice ride, I want a bigger house. Look, God does not just want the partially bless your old life, He wants to bless you with a whole new kind of life. God empowered, God focused, that's what he wants to do in our lives, that's what it means to be blessed ultimately. And you realize all that other stuff, is a pretty shallow end game of blessing. What God wants to do is much deeper and richer. Say hungry.

Jud Wilhite: 17:11 Here's another thought. If you want to position yourself to be even more blessed, stay humble, stay humble. I used to work out at this YMCA, and I'd always be in there with one other guy, this bodybuilder guy. Tough guy, and you know he didn't look like he wanted to have conversations, and so we didn't. And one day he looked across the gym at me and he says, hey, will you spot me on the bench press, and I didn't know what to say to a guy like that. I'm like yes sir, I'll spot you on the bench press, I'd be happy to do that sir. So he goes over and he loads the weights up. I mean, he puts more weight on this bar than I've ever seen anybody put on a bar. You spot somebody on the bench press, here's what's going to happen. He's going to lay down on a bench, and then he's got to take this bar, he's going to lower it down to his chest, and then push it up. And then there's these little rests at the top, where you could put the bar on the rest, and it's safe and secure. So when you spot somebody, you stand just behind that bench so that when he lowers the bar down to his chest and, he's pushing it up, if the bar gets too heavy, you can step in and kind of grab the bar, and lift the bar up to get it on those rests, so it doesn't decapitate him. That's what you're trying to do when you spot somebody, right? So I'm going to spot this guy, he loads this bar up, and I don't think he fully trusted me. I learned later, because he didn't put collars on the bar to hold the weights on. But he had them on there, and then he lifts it up, and he's going to max out. And so he does one full set. Amazing. Then he goes down for a second rep, and he goes up, and it gets about halfway done with the second rep and he stops and he says, little help here. Now I know like it's like I'm being called off the bench. Oh, that's me, I'm in the game. So I step up, right I'm supposed to grab this bar with both hands. I was supposed to, as much as I can, use my legs. Bend with your legs, keep your back straight, and pull this bar up and get help him get it up on the rest so that doesn't kill the poor guy. So I'm like okay, so I step in, and I pull this bar with everything I've got and the bar doesn't move. I'm not exaggerating, I'm not making this up, this is not like a pastor story or whatever. Like I pull the bar, no movement. And so I looked down at him, and he's like little help here. So I pull, and pull, and pull, and this bar drops a half inch. And I remember finally I just gave it everything I had, and then I looked down at this guy, big veins poking out of his neck. You know he's holding this bar, and I'm like that's all I got, I mean I can go tell somebody at the front desk up upstairs. So this guy does this weightlifter move, that some guys can do, if they're experienced in it. He keeps his left arm up just enough, and he drops his right arm, just collapses it. And slides over on the bench where the bar doesn't rest on his rib cage, but instead hits the bench, And holds his left arm up, and this is why he didn't collar the weights, and the weight slide off on that side. Eventually he's able to kind of get them off, and once the weights are off on that side, the bar lightning speed, I mean this all happened in like one second, flies up on the left side. This is where you could break your wrist, or break a rib. Instead he slides over with a bar, hits the bench on this side, and then all the weight slides off that side. Then he stands up, now the bars free of weight, and he throws the bar across the gym. And he turns around and looks at me, and I'm like, oh Jesus, and I mean that is a prayer. Jesus. I'm thinking like I am going to die, it happened in an old YMCA. He's pacing around, and he walks over to me, this is the first thing he said to me after all that, He said, we're going to start working out together. No lie. I said, yes sir, we are going to do whatever you say we are going to do. Yes sir, so we did. You know he's like, hey, meet me here at noon tomorrow. We're going to work out together, and I'm going to show you how to spot somebody. I just said, yes sir, you know. So every day I would show up at noon at this gym, most humbling experience of my life, right? I would show up, and this guy would destroy me physically, I mean just destroy me. I remember at one point he found out I was a follower of Jesus, and he wasn't yet a follower of Jesus, and I'd be doing like the bench press and I would have like nothing left. I'm totally maxed out, and then he would lean down and he would whisper into my ear, give me three more if you really love Jesus, do it for Jesus. And I am just like, oh, you want to go there, back up son. I'd be like doing dips, and he'd say, like seven more dips. Because seven is the perfect number in the Bible. I'm like, you don't even believe in God, man. Like you don't know anything about the Bible, what did you google this on the way in.

Jud Wilhite: 22:21 Anyway, I remember leaving the gym, I've worked out so hard that I could not do basic bodily functions. Have you ever lifted weights so hard that you...it's humbling, right? You can't do anything. I got in my car, and I could not get the key to go into the ignition. You ever been here? Like I hold it up, and my hand's shaking. And I'm just looking at it, and I'm looking at the ignition, and I'm like, you know, you just start kind of flinging. You know, like you're trying to use both hands, and do everything you can to get it going. You know, like when it comes time to turn, you just turned the wheel like this at the bottom. Because you can't do this movement all the way across the steering wheel. That night, I remember saying to my wife, Lori, honey, can you brush my teeth? I was standing there, and I cannot lift my hands, and I really should brushed my teeth. It was humbling. It was humbling. Sometimes God allows us to go to the gym. If you will. God's gym, right? Sometimes he breaks us down. Sometimes he humbles us. Sometimes he has to break us, to remake us, and rebuild us. Let me tell you, those three months I spent with that professional bodybuilder working out at noon at a crappy YMCA, I was in the best shape of my life by the end of that.

Jud Wilhite: 23:38 Sometimes God has to humble us so that he can remake us. How much better if we stay humble all the time, and stay open, so that God can use us without having to break us. God can shape us with not having to take us to school. God can teach us because we're teachable. That's what you see the Israelites do again and again. They forget God, they turned their back on God. They get proud, cocky and arrogant. They go their own way, and then God has to put them in a humbling position so they'll reach out to him again. How much better if we stay humble? Nicodemus is about to be humbled. He shows up. Commentators note that Nicodemus, in his conversation with Jesus, is basically kind of implying a give and take like relationship with Jesus. I'll bring you access and legitimacy, you bring me teaching. We'll do something for each other. I can help you, you can maybe help me, and Jesus just isn't having any of that. Listen to what Jesus says to Nicodemus. John 3:3, "Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God." And this is where we get the phrase born again. Maybe you've heard people talk about a born again Christian, that comes from this conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus says, look, you've got to be born again. Well, this would have been shocking to Nicodemus, who spent his whole life trying to earn his way to God. Morally, spiritually with knowledge, with pedigree, with education as a religious leader, as a teacher Like it's almost kind of like Jesus is saying, Nick, you think you can bring something to this relationship? Sit down, be humble. Sit down. Be Humble because this relationship is all about me giving something to you, which is the gift of salvation, and new life. In fact, it's in this conversation, where Jesus introduces the words that you know, we see at every field goal, in every football game. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son; so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Like the way to salvation, and the way to new life that God wants to offer us is not through our achievement or effort, it's through what only God can do. And he's saying to Nick, be humble, receive the gift of salvation. Nicodemus, at first, is a little confused by all of this. And here's what he says in Verse 4, he says, "What do you mean exclaimed Nicodemus? How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?" He's like, hey, that's not good science. "Jesus replied, I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the spirit. Humans can reproduce only the human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don't be surprised when I say you must be born again."

Jud Wilhite: 26:22 Jesus is like, listen, spiritual birth is like a picture that we draw from physical birth. Now, think about physical birth, being born. I remember when our son Ethan was being born, standing in the delivery room, and the doctor looks at me and he says, would you like to deliver this baby? And I looked at him and I said, no, I'd like for you to deliver this baby. I'll stay in my lane as a pastor, I'll say a prayer for you. You stay in your lane as a doctor, and you do your thing, and you know together will be a great team. Right? But I look up, I could see in my wife's eyes, oh you've got to do this, this is so special, what a cool thing. We were personal friends with the doctor, and so I said okay, okay, okay. So I get all suited up and everything, and you know, the time comes for our boy to be delivered. And the doctor basically put his hands under my hands, and I got to be the first person to touch our son, and deliver our son. I got to hold him up, and cut his umbilical cord, and the whole deal was really cool. Which I remind him of when he's being really ornery. I'm like, hey man, your mom may have brought you into the world, but I delivered you right here. Do not forget it. What'd you think about that moment? Like what does a child bring into the world? You know, when you think about it, they don't bring much of anything into that process, but helplessness. They're just helpless. I mean they don't do the work, they don't push, they don't do the breathing. They just sort of show up, and they're not very happy about it. Do you remember that? Like in the first few minutes it's like, man I was just in a spa, what is this?

Jud Wilhite: 28:03 And this is the picture, that's used for spiritual birth, to be born again. Just like with physical birth, what a child brings is helplessness. With spiritual birth, what we bring is helplessness. We bring our sin, and because of Jesus and his work on the cross, he brings salvation. We bring our shame, but Jesus brings his spirit. We bring our pain, God brings his purpose. We bring junk, God works on our behalf. We bring our garbage, God gets the glory. Ephesians 2 says, "It's by grace you've been saved. And this is a gift of God through faith, this is not by works, so that no one can boast or brag." You've got to be humble to receive it. And when you place your faith, and your trust, in Jesus. And you begin that spiritual journey, you receive his grace. You can't earn it, you don't achieve it, all your effort doesn't get you there. You don't deserve it, it's simply grace. But you know what? The rest of your spiritual life is lived based in the same grace. You still can't achieve it. You still can't earn it. You still don't deserve it. Everything you have is a gift. Everything I have is a gift. The air we breathe, the stuff we have, the relationships we have, the health we have, as long as we have it, all of it is a gift from God, and I don't deserve any of it. Stay humble.

Jud Wilhite: 29:30 One of the ways I try to do that in my life is a everyday I carry this chip in my pocket. This is my 30 year celebrate recovery sobriety chip, 30 year. So when I was 17 years old, I walked into a church for the first time on my own terms. I was coming out of a four year daily drug addiction, my life was a train wreck. I was at that crossroads in life. Some of you been there, where you know, like I'm either going to go crazy, I'm going to go to jail, I'm going to die, or I'm going to get some help. Those are my four options. And I walked into this church hungry for God, maybe for the first time in my life, humble with nothing to offer open hands and an open heart. And what I found is a community of people that walked with me, and prayed for me. They didn't judge me, they didn't look down on me, and they showed me what it was like to live a sober life just by how they live their lives. And so I carry this every day. That was 30 years ago, a long time ago. I don't carry this because I'm chained to the past, I mean this was before some of you were born. I carry this because it reminds me of all God has done in my life. It reminds me of all God has forgiven me for. It reminds me that I'm no better than anybody else, reminds me that I need God's grace just as much as anybody else. And look, if there's hope for me, there's hope for anybody. So, I carry this every day in my pocket to stay humble, to stay grounded, to remember where I came from. The most dangerous believer is the believer that has forgotten all God has done in their life, and become arrogant and judgmental towards other people.

Jud Wilhite: 31:22 This is why Jesus was so frustrated with the religious leaders again, and again throughout the New Testament The most dangerous believers is the one who's forgotten all God did in their life, and therefore they've become arrogant and judgmental towards everybody else. When your life as a follower of Jesus becomes all about accusing and judging other people, you know who you start to look like in that. Just a thought for you, this might tweak your mind a little bit, you start to look a lot like the devil. Who's known as what? The accuser. Just saying, I don't know about you, but I want to look a whole lot more like Jesus, than I want to look like the devil. You know, and I want to be a person that loves and extends grace and second chances and hope and truth to people, rather than judgment and condemnation. I want to be humbled, and remember all that God has done in my life, and all the times I turned my back on his grace before I eventually received it. All the times I should have made progress, but I went the other way, right? All the times I should have done the right thing, but I didn't. I carry a coin. Find something you can do in your own life to help you remember who God is, and what he's done in your life. Because if you'll stay humble, you position yourself to be blessed by God. If you stay hungry, if you stay humble. The Bible says, God exalts the humble, but he humbles the proud, so stay humble before God, have a servant's heart towards him and others. Humble people realize everything they have is a gift from God. and they carry it all with an open hand and they stay faithful. Thirdly, stay faithful. Galatians 5:25 simply says, "Since we are living by the spirit, let us follow the spirit's leading, in every part of our lives." Let's follow the spirit's leading. One of the ways that we can be blessed, and continue to be blessed, even more is to simply follow the spirit's leading. When you sense God is leading you in a conversation, even though you're busy, just stay and listen, and don't walk away yet and you obey that leading of God's spirit. You're positioning yourself to be blessed.

Jud Wilhite: 33:31 You may be blessed in some specific way, or you may have the blessing of serving someone else in a moment, right? When you sense God is telling you to let go of bitterness or hate that you have in your heart towards somebody who's wronged you, and you choose to pray that God will give you the power to forgive them, and to move towards forgiveness. What are you doing? You're following the leading of the spirit, and in doing that, you're going to find the blessing of obeying God. When you're faithful with generosity and your commitment you've made, even though you're also trying to save for other things and it's hard, what are you doing? You're following that leading of the spirit in your life, and in doing it, you're going to find there is blessing there. When you stay faithful, you've positioned yourself to receive even more blessing from God, and I believe Nicodemus would go on to discover what it was to live in God's favor and blessing.

Jud Wilhite: 34:18 In fact, he disappears from the record of Jesus' life after what we just read in John 3. He shows up two other times briefly, once Nicodemus is mentioned at a religious leaders gathering, where he stands up and defends Jesus. The next time we read his name is at the end of John's Gospel, and what we read is that Jesus was crucified on the cross, and that a man named Joseph of Arimathea, took his body down from the cross, and placed it in a tomb along with Nicodemus. Here's this educated, powerful, influential religious leader. I wonder if he didn't go back to that tomb many times, not to mourn, but to marvel. Because Christ had risen from the dead, and even risen in his own heart. Listen, if you want to be blessed in your life, stay hungry for God, stay humble towards God, and stay faithful to the leading of God in your life. Stay hungry. Stay humble and stay faithful.

Jud Wilhite: 35:26 My friend Craig Groeschel wrote a piece that is amazing, it goes like this. Time is short, my king is coming soon. Because eternity matters, I'll give him my all. My faith moves mountains, my prayers calm storms, my words give life, my hands bring healing, my feet deliver the good news that Christ is risen, and he is coming again. God's Word is a lamp directing my steps. His spirit is my power, and when I'm weak he makes me strong. Because Christ is coming, I won't back down, sell out or be pushed around. My life is too valuable, my calling is too great. My God is too good to waste my life on things that don't last. I'm empowered by God's spirit, I'm trained by God's word, I'm tried by fire. My name is written in the book of life, my life belongs to him. And because my life is not my own, and earth is not my home, I will live for the glory of God, and not the applause of people. I'm strong in the Lord and in his power, to do his will on earth as it is in heaven, because Christ lives in me. Listen, trials cannot stop me., people cannot break me, money cannot buy me, haters cannot silence me, demons cannot defeat me. Time is short, my king is coming soon. I will leave no words unsaid, no deeds undone, no hope unshared, because my king is coming soon.

Jud Wilhite: 36:51 Listen, we're already blessed, we're already blessed, but we can be even more blessed. Stay hungry, stay humble, stay faithful. People say, what was church about this weekend? Stay hungry. Stay humble. Stay faithful. Stay hungry, stay humble, stay faithful. God doesn't want to just partially bless your life, He wants to bless you with a whole new kind of life. You may be tested right now, but where God tests you is often where he's getting ready to bless you. The habits you maintain in a comfortable season, will determine how you handle the difficult season. Stay hungry, stay humble, stay faithful.
Jud Wilhite: 37:40 Let's bow and pray together. God, we love you, we thank you for the mercy, and the kindness you show us every day. We thank you for the opportunity that we have, just to come together to follow you, to worship you, and we pray you will bless us. You'll pour your blessing out in our life, you'll shape and mold our hearts and our lives, and you'll empower us to follow you in faith each day. Thank you for who you are, for all that you do, we give you praise in Christs' name. Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286