Reality One – God’s Work

Living for God leads us to be mindful of his purpose for our lives

Linn Winters
Jan 22, 2017    38m
If we are going to be living for God we need to be sensitive to God's will for our life. Sometimes we want to do things our way without consulting God. Do things God's way and watch how amazing things turn out. 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.

Pastor Linn: 00:45 Hey Cornerstone, how do you doin'?

Pastor Linn: 00:52 I am, I am so glad you're here. We're going through a series right now that I just think is going to be life changing for all of us and glad you guys are going to be part of it. I want to do a really quick shout out to our San Tan campus and our Scottsdale campus, everybody that's in the venue, our 5:00 p.m. service, everyone who's watching online. We don't care how you got to this service. We just care that you're here so man we're really glad. About six weeks ago we went through a series of conversations that we called the test and the test was about this, the test said, look God, in one place in scripture it challenges us and it says put me to the test. And it's this idea of you and I being faithful in our giving, of giving the first 10 percent in tithes, and God said look, if you'll, if you'll put me to the test which we talked about really means putting ourselves to the test then God said, look I'll show up, I'll be faithful to you in that. And we have been getting just tons and tons of e-mails and letters coming in that people say look, with fear and trembling I signed up for the 90 day challenge and I'm just telling you God is already showing up. He's already coming through for me and I need to tell my story. And we wanted to share a couple stories and today we've got one of them for you and it's right here...

Pastor Linn: 00:52 -- Video plays --

Pastor Linn: 04:28 How cool is that. God is doing this story all over our campuses right now and it's just, it's just fun to watch when God shows up. And I just want to say you guys have been so amazing at this and you've been so good I just want to encourage you to keep it up and let God show himself. Here's the deal, the one thing you don't want to do is jump out of the test before the test is up. See, the only way that God's not going to be faithful for you is if you choose first not to be faithful to him. So just put him to the 90 days, just, just see what he does if you keep the commitment from the beginning and just let God show up, very, very, very fun to see what God is doing all over our church right now. OK.

Pastor Linn: 05:07 So today we're in the second week of our series, Experiencing God, which might be mildly confusing because last week was an intro week. This week is actually the first reality in the series on the deal and we asked you to consider as we go through this series signing up for a group taking one of the study guides. Being with a group of other Christians, do the study guide during the week and then come together once a week and just go, "Here's what's God's teaching, here's how God is speaking to my life." Last week we ran out of books on the patio. I mean the response was so incredible that we then had to call back to the publisher. We apparently have broken Amazon. There are no books of it but they we did get, we got their one and only shipment. We got another, I think, thousand books that are out there today. If you're one of those people that didn't get it, go grab it today because it may be hard to get any more. So anyways it's fun. Thank you for your response, this is going to be life changing, be in a group. Remember I said at the very least, look, if you if you don't have any friends we will give you friends. If you can't find anyone to do a group with you do it with your spouse. They like you enough to do it so do it with your spouse. But don't do this alone. It is life changing when you do it in community. So that's going on right now. All right.

Pastor Linn: 06:31 So we said last week was kind of an intro. What we really went last week was to say look, you're not going to experience God sitting still. That if there is something in your life, a place of disobedience, a place of hesitation to obey or do what God wants you to do next. That the first thing you've got to do on this journey is just simply say, "OK God I know you asked that and I know I've been pausing, I know I haven't... And I'm just, I'm just going to step in and for the first... I'm going to start doing that. If it's a relationship, if it's a habit, I'm going to start doing that even though I don't know where you're going to take me for the rest of it." Some of us would just say well you know it, it's, it... I don't know that it's disobedience. It just feels like a pause. We said OK, OK. So maybe the first step is just start chasing God again, just start pursuing God again. But you're not going to experience God sitting still. So as an intro last week.

Pastor Linn: 07:20 This week is reality number one. And reality number one is simply this, that God is always at work. That God is always doing something in us and around us constantly. Now my guess is there are some in the room that say, "Okay Linn, you're going to have a hard time proving that by me. Because I'm just telling you. I've been in prayer about something, I mean I've been asking God, asking God, asking God and I'm just going to be honest with you and tell you I've got nothing. I've got a situation in my life. I've got a problem going on and I have been waiting on God and waiting on God, for God to do something about it. And I'm just telling you God could not be more absent than he's being right now. I'm not experiencing God. I'm not seeing God at work anywhere in my life." Some of us would say, "I told God exactly what he needed to do and he hasn't done it yet and I'm just telling you this whole idea that God is always at work and always doing something around me and in me, you'd have a hard time proving it by me." You realize there's an old testament character by the name of Moses who would feel for you. Who would say, "No, no, believe me I understand this frustration." Matter of fact if you know the story of Moses you know that he's born during the time in which Israel is in captivity. As slaves to the Egyptians. The Egyptians decide that the Israelites, the Hebrews, are having too many children and that pretty soon the population is going to delta up and they'll be more Israelites, will be more Jews than there will be Egyptians. So the pharaoh comes up with this great plan and says. "OK for the time being until we decide to stop we're simply going to kill all the babies that are born to the Jews, to the Hebrews so that we can keep population control. In the midst of this Moses was born and his mother tries really, really, really hard to hide Moses from being killed and executed by Egyptian soldiers. It comes to the point that she can no longer hide him. People are starting to figure out, women are becoming jealous that she's kept her child and they haven't. And so it's a last ditch effort. She takes her little boy, makes for him a little boat, a little basket out of reeds, sits him on the Nile River and prays and says, "God please take care of my little boy," and pushes him out. It just so happens that basket goes downstream and happens to come to a place where the daughter of the Pharaoh is bathing. She hears a little baby cry, goes over to see it and despite the fact that Moses was a Hebrew she falls instantly in love with him, takes Moses into the king's palace where he is raised almost like a stepson to Pharaoh.

Pastor Linn: 10:17 In the midst of this Moses is still very, very, very conscious of his identity, the fact that he's not an Egyptian, he is a Hebrew and I'm sure everybody was happy to remind him of that. And so I want you to picture one day that he walks out to a hill that just maybe overlooks the capitol city there and sees his people being abused, being made to be slaves by the oppressive Egyptian government, and he says God if I can see this how come you can't see it. And this is so wrong. I mean this is so unjust, it's so unfair. How can you sit back idly doing nothing when this is happening. It's interesting because in frustration one day. Moses sees an Egyptian abusing a Hebrew slave and in that moment here's what he thinks. Well if God's not going to do anything, if God's not going to be at work then, then I'll do something and it may be a small thing it may only be one step but at least it's a step in the right direction. And you ready for this? Here's the irony of the moment, that Moses in that moment misses. That God has been at work. Think about this. Think about the unlikeliness that a little Hebrew boy is spared when all of his peers are being killed. That a mother who pushes a little reed basket out into the Nile River and prays a little prayer and that little boy survives the crocodiles, that it just so happens, I mean just by coincidence to land where the daughter of Pharaoh is bathing. That that little Hebrew boy would be instantly loved and taken into the King's palace and raised as if he was ... I mean think about that. And Moses, Moses in the moment absolutely missing that the answer to his prayers and the work of God was actually him. Sees the Egyptian abusing the Hebrew and decides to kill him. And because he could not see what God was doing he spends the next 40 years of his life in exile. Yeah Moses would say to you and me, "No I get it, I get what it's like to stand in a moment when God is actually working in my life and swear that he's up to nothing."

Pastor Linn: 12:57 So here's the question. Is it possible, is it possible that one of the reasons that you and I are so unaware of what God is doing and we don't seem to see him working is because he's not doing what we want him to do? The way that we want him to do it, that in that moment we're almost like a little child. Have you ever noticed little children believe that the entire world revolves around them? Have all seen that? The house can be on fire and a child finishes their drawing and they walk over to mommy and they go, "Hey look at my picture." To which Mommy goes, "Oh that's very nice. Go draw something else." And he goes, "No, no look at the picture." Look Tommy the house is on fire. Imagine that evening as little Tommy is getting tucked in bed and he looks up to his mom with with little sad eyes and says, "I don't think you love me." Well Tommy what do you mean? Of course I love you."

Pastor Linn: 14:06 "We'll today when I showed you my picture you didn't pay attention, you paid more attention to the fire than you did me." Wouldn't mom in that moment say, "Tommy, Tommy, it's the very fact that I love you that made the fire important. See I went after the fire because it has the greatest potential to cause you harm. It had, it had the greatest ability to do damage. It's the very love I have for you that made the fire so important. And Tommy look, I love your picture, I love your picture because you're my son. And so anything you do matters to me. It's just the fire was the most important thing."

Pastor Linn: 14:52 I wonder if you and I are a little bit like Tommy. I wonder if we put blinders on. Because we were so sure that God needed to pay attention to what we were concerned about and what was going on in our immediate life that we just said oh well you know what if I don't see God answering my prayers the way I want them answer and if I don't see God doing what I am expecting God to do then God must not care. And God must not be active. It's interesting because we pray things like this, "Hey God you know I just want to be successful, it's just all I'm asking. I'm not, I'm not asking... It just, I just I just want the idea that I could move up the corporate ladder and that my life wouldn't just end up being in a dead end and I don't have to be big, I just I just need to feel some forward movement. God I'd really like to be popular and and look, I'm not talking Taylor Swift type popular or Tom Brady popular, I'm talking I just want you know when I walk in the room would be nice if I was the coolest person in the room, that would be nice, that would be nice if you know, I could be popular and God you know look if you could just take care of me financially, and I'm just asking to always be comfortable. That's all I'm asking. That's all I'm asking, just you know, that there will always be enough when the tires need replacing, always be that you know enough when the kids need private school. I'm just saying if you could keep me comfortable then I'm OK. And here's the problem God, I don't see you working with me on this. I'm not even sure you care, I'm not even sure you're active because you're not doing what I clearly understand you need to do." Isn't it interesting that the things we as Christians most often pursue God to do on our behalf, the things we ask him to chase with us are the very same things that our friends who don't know God are chasing. Little pictures... they don't really, really Matter. So you say well well wait, so if God is working and you're telling me that he is active. Then then what is it that God's active in. What, what is it that I should be seeing, that I should be understanding.

Pastor Linn: 17:15 So here we go, grab your Bibles. And go with me to the book of John. Now here's what you need to know because, because the will of God and the plan of God is so obscure I had to go find some really obscure passages for you. So hang on as we do this but you're going to be, you're going to be amazed that I found these passages. John Chapter 3, if you're not familiar go to the back your Bible work to the left. John Chapter 3. Anybody want to guess what verse? 16, because the will of God is so obscure. He hasn't told us about this at all. Here we go. John Chapter 3 Verse 16, here's what he says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him." And God says, look, this is, this is my passion. This is my deep, deep, deep resounding concern. This is the fire that this world would somehow make contact with me. And this is such a priority. This is so important to me that I was willing to give my son to get this done. Which means, are you ready for this? That God is constantly, constantly, constantly working in our world to help people discover him. It's where God works. It's how God works.

Pastor Linn: 18:57 Another passage, go to the right with me, the book of Romans again really, really obscure passage. Romans Chapter 8. Romans Chapter 8 verse 28. Here's what it says. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose. And then he goes," There Linn, that is what I mean. If he would just make me popular if he'd move me." No, no, no, no. What's good. He works for the good of those who love who have been called according to his purpose. You ready? And here is good, for those God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his son in which he says look, look here's the thing when you became a Christian, when you finally figured me out. That was me working in your life, but the moment you did that I became fully committed to doing whatever I had to do, good things, bad things, hard things, easy things, whatever I had to do to nudge you further and further to becoming like my son. Now this is the part that's hard for us because this is very often the place you and I end up in the most conflict with God because the very thing that God is doing to produce Jesus in us is often the thing we're praying against. Dear God, dear God would you please fix that problem. Dear god dear god would you please take that supervisor out of my life. Death would be fine." Just whatever right? This is where we're praying. And yet here's what you need to know guys. Sometimes the greatest, the greatest movement in our life comes through the hardest moments of our life. Matter of fact if you want to teach somebody patience, the best way to teach someone patients is irritate the snot out of them. If, if God wants to teach you that you don't need money and it shouldn't be of value then the best thing you can do is. Take it all away. And this is one of the very moments that you and I have the hardest time seeing God working because very often God is putting out the fire and we're trying to show him the picture. And it feels like he's working against us and not for us.

Pastor Linn: 21:35 But what if you and I took off the blinders. What if you and I began to say, "Oh whoa, whoa, whoa, here's the deal. Scripture tells me so clearly, I mean God was already obvious about this. He is always, always working to bring people to himself. I wonder where in my family, in my group of friends and my neighbors, where do I see God trying to nudge himself into people's lives that I know? And in the circumstances that I'm going through, some of them good some of them really crummy. What is, what is the part of Jesus that God is trying to form in me right now?" You realize if we god off the hook to do what we want him to do and begin to look at what God is actually doing. Winning people to him, helping me be more like Jesus, you would suddenly begin to see God at work in your life.

Pastor Linn: 22:30 Someone asked the question again is it possible, is it possible that the reason you and I don't see God at work is because God isn't doing what we told him to do. But he's actually doing what he always does. Your life, ready for this? Your life is living proof that God is always at work. Your life. When you came to Christ chances are you would, you would have said, "Hey you know, my story of coming to Christ is, you know, it's kind of fuzzy. There is actually just kind of a series of coincidences that brought me to Christ. You know when I was in high school I was in school and there was this kid there and everybody knew they were a Christian. And interestingly enough I ended up in a couple of classes sitting kind of a next to this kid and we talk a little bit. And I didn't want to get too close to them because I was afraid Jesus would like rub off of them on me. And I didn't want that. But I'm just telling you ever since then I've always had this sense that there was something different, something, something unique about them. There was that funeral you went to. And you sat there heartbroken and agonizing. And you said God if you're there, if you're there, how do 19 year olds die. How can this on any level be fair, or be just, or be right? And you wonder does any of us get guaranteed a certain amount of time? I mean is there just, is it just what you're lucky enough to get? Is there an afterlife? I mean, will I ever see my friends? And you're left with more questions than you came with.

Pastor Linn: 24:24 It was that really awkward moment when your grandmother told you she was praying for you. And you freaked out, and you freaked out because you're like there is nothing worse than Grandma prayers, I'm just telling you. I mean it's like I'm in trouble now. And you actually, you actually say grandma please stop. Don't, no more, don't pray anymore for me. But man that's haunted you. And then a friend, some friend said, "Hey, would you come to my church Cornerstone?" And before you even realize what came out of your mouth you went, "I guess I could do that," and so you came to church. And the pastor was up there preaching and said something about asking Jesus into your heart. And you prayed your prayer. Next thing you know he said, "Hey if you prayed the prayer stand up." People were applauding and you're like, "I don't know how this happened!" And I mean there's just this whole list of weird coincidences. And here's ... if you would stop and turn around and look all those things felt like coincidences. They line up in a straight line. And if you see that that's the work of God and you go, oh my goodness that is God, that is God over and over and over again just nudging me closer and closer to the cross. Till I would come to know him. Your life is absolute evidence that God is always at work.

Pastor Linn: 25:48 We said the second thing God does is that he grows us. And again sometimes this one's harder because God sometimes does his best work in the moments of our life that we hate. See it's really easy to see God in the good moments, right? Oh god thanks for providing such a great spouse. God thanks for the job. But sometimes God does his best work in the worst moments. In the very things that we prayed against. God uses two things to grow you and me to look like Jesus. He uses events in our lives. He uses people in our lives. And I don't know I don't know your story. I just know you have a story just like I do. Just like I look back and I go OK I'm a child of divorce. And in all sorts of want and need and yet I'm just telling you that God used that moment of brokenness and hurt in my life to prove to me and to teach me that as long as I had him I was OK. As I was going through my career in ministry, you know, the first three pastors I worked for were horribly unfair, they were horribly unjust. And I found myself saying, "Hey how can a man of God treat somebody else like that? He's supposed to be a Christian. And yet God in that moment poured into me leadership. He caused crisis of my life to say I don't ever want to lead that way. I don't ever want to treat people that way. And he used some of the toughest moments of my life to be the best moments of my life. And guys I don't, I don't know the story, here's how I know, I know that God is using the events of your life. And you sat here going you know I can't feel like my parents got divorced. I can't figure out why I lost the job that I always wanted to have as a job. I can't I can't figure out why I've got a child of rebellion. I don't know. And I'm just telling you. That God uses the events of our lives to make us like his son.

Pastor Linn: 27:46 God uses the people of our lives. You've heard me talk about my uncle Marty who, when I was 9 years old, paid me two dollars a day to come and mow lawns. 14 lawns a day, two dollars a day and I could go oh how unfair and how... No, no, no. God used Uncle Marty to remind a 9 year old boy what a dad was like. And a husband was like. I could tell you about Wayne Bauer, my youth in life who first got my passion for Jesus to come alive and literally spent hours and hours and hours in my life teaching me scripture so that when I went to Bible college, the first four years of Bible college were a cruise because of what Wayne had taught me. I could tell you about Pastor George who taught me how to be an actual pastor. I could tell you about Brent and Sonya Richardson who had unbelievable courage and sacrifice and sold their home at a loss to come plant cornerstone in a little cow town called Chandler Arizona. And I was going to tell you that God uses people in our lives to make us like Jesus, even some of the people who sometimes say hard things. And if you and I realize that God is always at work to try to make me more like Christ you suddenly maybe look back at some relationships and say you know that person who frustrated me, man that was God's hand for me. You might look back at an event in your life that up until now you said boy that's just a marker of unfairness and wrongness in my life and go Oh my goodness that was actually god teaching in my life. Because, are you ready for this guys? Your life is a living testimony that God is always at work.

Pastor Linn: 29:24 And I wonder I wonder if you and I today could slip the blinders off and realize this isn't about my plans and what I want to. This is about God finding me and then growing me. That you and I wouldn't look back and say you know what. Something that I've been angry about, I really should thank God for. I should really say hey god. Thank you, thank you that I grew up without. Thank you that in that moment that came out because you grew me. And there may be individuals in your life who have been nothing but the hand of God in your life that you probably had to go home today and get on the phone and just say Hey I just was going to tell you. When I look back, so much of Jesus formed in me because you were my friend. And I just want to tell you thank you for that.

Pastor Linn: 30:19 You know when this gets fun. Here's when this gets fun, it gets fun when you can see God working in someone else's life. No I'm being serious because it's much less painful when it's them. It just is. It's wonderful. You're like oh ah that's God working. Keep it up guys. Here's what you look for, here's what you look for. You look for moments that are what I call wow moments, you look for moments when you go, wow that's deeply unfortunate. Wow, that's really unfair. I wonder how God let that happen, okay? And when you see wow moments in someone else's there's a really, really, really, really, really good chance that God is working in their lives. I've got a friend. And he came to me a while back and he said, "Hey I've got this kind of entry level job at this amazing, amazing, amazing company." I'm just gonna tell you right now I have changed the names to protect the guilty. But the story still works okay?"

Pastor Linn: 31:20 So he says, "I get this entry level job and it's at this amazing corporate, corporation and it's just, it's a really, really good thing for me to move in. Linn would you pray for me that although it's only for a year, it's a temporary position that at the end of it they would hire me permanently." So for the entire year we prayed, "Hey God when this, you know, gets to... Would you allow my friend Jeff to get hired permanently?" They get to the end of the year. The company doesn't hire him. But about two or three weeks later they call him back and say, "Hey we do, we want to bring you back. We want to extend you being here for a while."

Pastor Linn: 32:00 I end up hearing that my friend Jeff turns down the job. So now I'm meeting with my friend and go, "Dude whoa, wait, we've been praying for a year. I'm hearing they called you back, they offered you the job, you turned it down. What's up?"

Pastor Linn: 32:17 He goes, "Well, I was really, really frustrated that we got to the end and they didn't understand how valuable I was and appreciate my work and that they actually let me leave for a couple of weeks, that just bothered me. So I started looking for other jobs and had gotten, you know, I've got a couple of contacts going on right now and, and then when they finally called me in and offered to extend my job, you know, the supervisor was not really respectful. And so I just thought I don't need this. I'm not going to work here. And so I turned them down. I'm going to go get one of the other jobs." One of our mutual friends came to me and said, "Have you heard what's going on with Jeff?" And I said, "Yeah I guess he's going to go take a job in Nebraska." And it just so happened we knew the place that he was going well enough to know that there was no opportunity for promotion there. He was going to get a better job title but there was that was it, he was done. He would he would never move up, there was going to be an opportunity for him to expand or to learn much new or develop his job skills. It was it was one and done. And knowing our friend Jeff, we knew this is going to be just hyper, hyper frustrating in his life. And so my friend says to me, "Linn what, this is crazy, this is crazy. He's going to go work at this in Nebraska and it's a career suicide." And I said, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. This is god." He goes, "What?" I go, "No no no this is god." He goes, "What are you talking about?" I said, "How did he turn down the job, why did he turn down the job?".

Pastor Linn: 33:58 "Well, he said something about his supervisor wasn't respectful enough and didn't appreciated it enough and so he just said no I don't want that job. Now he's packing his family and they're heading off to Nebraska." Said, "You realize what happened don't you? Why did he turn down that job? Because he's full of pride. He's full of arrogance that he couldn't even see that the very thing we've been praying for a year together God provided and he turned it down because the supervisor didn't talk to him nice enough?" Said, "And I can tell you exactly what happened. He walked into that office, the supervisor asked him, 'Hey do you want to have the job?' God provided it. He looked at them and said, 'No.'" And god in that moment said, "That boy needs Nebraska. He'll learn humility in Nebraska. He'll learn to watch a little better in Nebraska. That boy needs Nebraska."

Pastor Linn: 34:59 I wonder how differently we would respond to life if we were actually watching for god. There's an interesting moment in the story of Moses. He gets up to the burning bush he says to God, "God how come you haven't been working. How come I can't see you?" And God says, "Moses, Moses you missed everything I did. Matter fact you've kind of screwed up the plan. So here's what we're going to do, we're going to send you back to Pharaoh. Forty years too late. I'm going to bring my people out now." And I want you to picture Moses standing on that same hill overlooking that city. Only this time watching the children of Israel march out. Matter of fact for real quick there's a little passage in Exodus, here's what it says. All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their division. Don't you know that on that day Moses stood on that hill and said, "Man, I see God working," because he let God work the way God works instead of how Moses works. What if you and I spent the next week just saying to God God, God help me take off the blinders, let me look for people around me that you're trying to win to yourself, let me see moments of conviction. Let me see moments of sadness where maybe I could go and say something. Let me just see you drawing people to yourself. God help me to see circumstances and instead of trying to see if are they good or are they bad instead to see them and say, "Is this God moving me to be more like Jesus?" And the circumstances of others, is this God teaching them so that maybe I could even give a word of encouragement, just go, "Hey, Nebraska is better than you think. God's going to do something with you there." What if you and I spent a week looking for God.

Pastor Linn: 37:16 Let's pray. Hey dear Lord Jesus. We're going to admit to being afflicted in the same way that Moses was. We're going to admit that because you haven't done what we asked you to do, the way that we asked you to do it we didn't see you, and yet you are alive and active all around us. God help us to take off the blinders. Help us to spend a week looking to see the people that you're drawing to yourself. Help us to spend a week seeing our circumstances and how you're using them to form Jesus in us. God may we spend a week experiencing you, and this we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

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