As we go through life, we all end up learning many lessons.

You’ve likely heard it said that some lessons need to be learned the hard way. While that’s likely true, given our natural bent to be some combination of stubborn and stupid from time to time, it is also true that there are some lessons you definitely DON’T want to learn the hard way. The toughest part is figuring out what those lessons are in time.

Some of life’s lessons can be quite a shock. As a child my wife Pat used a metal fork to try and get a piece of toast out of a toaster because she had seen her father do it. What she had not noticed was that he always unplugged the toaster first. She didn’t, and was literally tossed across the room by the electric charge.

As a young father, I learned to always change my boys’ diapers quickly, because they will pee on you. I admit that I didn’t learn it the first time. I should have, but I didn’t. Along similar lines, I learned while going through the police academy that, after training with pepper spray, you should thoroughly wash your hands before using the bathroom.

For part of the time our kids were growing up, we lived on a farm. One of my sons thought that being three times larger than a chicken gave him an advantage over it. He was wrong. We also learned that Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a child. Not comfortably, but they will. We learned that ceiling fans will not support a boy with a Superman cape who wants to fly. And we learned that by the time you hear the words “Uh oh” after the flush of a toilet, it’s already too late.

Those lessons are all best learned from someone else’s mistakes.

But today’s verse presents some lessons we can only learn on our own:

Perhaps the first lesson we ought to learn from this verse is one of logic. Believing something doesn’t make it true. Neither intensity of belief nor longevity of belief creates truth. It literally doesn’t matter how long you’ve believed something, what you do or do not believe will not change its nature. The inverse of that logic is also flawless. Refusing to believe something cannot make it false. Your belief, or lack thereof, is simply not a factor.

God truly is God. He is. His very name proclaims His existence, for He told Moses that His name was “I AM THAT I AM.”

He is. He always has been. He always will be. God says that plainly and clearly about Himself. He also makes it clear that He is the only one. As God, He is the source and the sustenance of your life. Because He is a loving God, He reveals Himself and draws us into a relationship.

The second lesson we can draw from today’s verse is that “the God” can become “your God.” This is where your choice to believe or not to believe CAN affect something, because it is your choice to place your faith in Him that determines the nature of your relationship with God. Once you’ve made the second part of the verse true, once you can say “You are MY God;” then the first part of the verse can begin to impact your life.

Once the Lordship relationship is established, God will continually lead you by His word and His Spirit into deeper truth. As you continue to embrace His truth, it becomes part of your inner nature. God tells us not to be conformed to the world and its ways, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. That transformation enables us to test the claims of things in the light of God’s word, and thereby discern what is truly good.

The world is great at giving advice, except the stances they hold and the things they espouse as “good” continue to change. They’ll tell you to do whatever makes YOU happy, but not everything that will make you happy is good or moral. So they continue to redefine “good” until it is measured only by the pleasure it is intended to give.

God defines good, too. His word counsels us to focus on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—to think about such things. This is how we end up with lives filled with true inner peace. You cannot have the peace of God unless you follow the God of peace. But when you do, His peace that surpasses all understanding guards your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.

The world will proclaim arbitrary rules, and then undermine those same rules in the same breath. I found an incredibly sad example of this on a “dating advice” site. It said “Don’t date coworkers. Ever.” Ok, that’s clear. Then the next point says, “Obviously, there are some exceptions to this.” Wait, what? So we end up with a non-rule rule that is useless: “Don’t date coworkers. Ever. Except sometimes.” And deciding whether the “sometimes” is “this time” is totally controlled by your emotions. Oh, that’s reliable!

A third lesson we can pull from today’s verse is that when God sets His boundaries they have purpose and meaning, even if you can’t comprehend either one yet. But our lack of understanding doesn’t negate the value of the rule. God never says something like, “Don’t commit murder. Ever. Except sometimes.” His rules protect us, even when we don’t understand why or from what we are being protected. His rules don’t change, because He doesn’t.


When the goalposts keep being repositioned you can never win the game. In the eyes of the world you’ll never be rich enough, strong enough, thin enough or fill-in-your-own-characteristic enough. God says HE IS ENOUGH, and makes you into who He created you to be.

The final lesson we’ll talk about together this morning is this: God’s purpose in teaching you His will is so that you will DO it, not just know it. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He said, “You will be DONE on earth, as it is in heaven.” We are called to do His will, employing the gifts, talents and abilities He has given us. When we do what He calls us to do, it advances His Kingdom. Our doing good will silence the ignorance of foolish people. They will see the fruit of His life in ours, and how it transforms us.

The most important thing to “DO” is to submit to His Lordship in your life. Because, as I said, it is your choice to place your faith in Him that determines the nature of your relationship with God. And THAT determines your eternity.

If you do not embrace His offer of life, you will remain dead in your trespasses and sin.

Don’t try to enter eternity until you can say “THE GOD” is “MY GOD.”
That’s NOT a lesson you want to learn the hard way.


Choose Your Language »