Amazing God

AN ATTITUDE WE CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON

We may not know how family members will treat us today or what mood our co-workers will be in when we show up this morning.

Actually, until we step out of bed (and get down a dose of coffee) we don’t know what mood we will be in today.

How sweet to know that God never changes.

His heart does not change, so His heart for you doesn’t change. He will be the same today as He has always been.

This should make us eager to spend a little time with Him (a lot is okay too), because we will find our Heavenly Father already waiting for us – with ears, heart and arms open wide.

THERE IS SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT HUGS

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I remember as a child when I felt sick, there was something restorative about my mom’s hugs.

When my children were little, having them run up and throw their arms around me was one of the greatest feelings in the world.

They don’t run up to me anymore, but I still love hugs from my girls; while Jordan and I settle for grunts and a punch in the arm or a pat on the back.

When I travel to Belarus or Guatemala, I joyfully receive bear hugs from my dear friends.

Then there are the wondrous hugs from my wife that make it seem as though all is right with the world. Sometimes when I am feeling worn around the edges, I ache for a hug from Debbie

There truly is something special about hugs

This is because God made us to love them. Love, security, peacefulness, reassurance, affection, friendship, contentment – and any other good association we have with hugs are all qualities that come from the heart and character of God.

These feelings exist because God has expressed them to us.

God is the one who invites us to call Him “Abba Father” which is an intimate expression of saying Dad. He is the most wondrous of Fathers and He loves to hold us. Psalm 139 describes how in remote places, even there “your right hand shall hold me”.

Maybe you feel it is too presumptuous to think of God holding you in a strong and safe hug – but is not God an even more loving parent than ourselves?

If we love to give hugs, this is because God loves to hold those He loves. 

Do you need a good hug, don’t be hesitant to receive the embrace of your heavenly Father who loves you more than tongues can tell or thoughts imagine.

Learn to rest in the strong and secure arms that do not let us go.

WHAT HAPPENS TO OLD SINS?

What do we do with old sins?

Learn from them?

Try to minimize them?

Beat ourselves with them?

Worry over them?

Ignore them?

Live in regret from them?

The Bible tells us our response to sin, which is to repent and then move forward from them, leaving our sins behind.

But there is an even bigger question.

What does God do with our old sins?!

Tim Challies gives us this wonderfully biblical and encouraging view of what God does with the sins of his people!

What we will not find on this list is that God,

Reminds us of them

Holds them over our head

Pulls away from us because of them

 We should have God’s view of sin, when it appears in our life.

And, we should have God’s view of sin, when it has been washed away!

WHY DO WE WHINE SO MUCH?

We complain easily and we complain a lot.

As Christians we complain despite the reality that our life has the proverbial “embarrassment of riches”. The fullest description of our wealth of blessings may be what we find in Ephesians 1:3-14:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

A believer who habitually complains – is somewhat like Bill Gates moaning about his finances, or Michael Phelps whining that he doesn’t have enough Olympic medals.

In addition to what Ephesians describes,

We have God’s unfailing Word that we can read and follow in all situations

We have the Holy Spirit – all that God is – living in us

We have Christ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords interceding on our behalf

We have the open invitation to cast every burden upon our Lord Jesus

We have the Church which God raised up to bless and support us

We have the wondrous promise that every situation will work together for our eternal good

So how are we using this treasury of ‘riches’ from God?

Yes, our mouths should be open and we should have a lot to say. But let it be praise rather than complaint, thanksgiving rather than grumbling. These are the appropriate responses for all who are in Christ! As the Psalmist declares,

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised”

 

THEY ARE JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG

Sunday morning as I was walking through our church, I noticed three people praying together

Then several steps further I overheard a young woman discussing how she was encouraging a friend to become more rooted in her own church

Then a reality suddenly struck me

I was surrounded by graces of God

Not just the amazing graces of God toward me, but also the countless evidences of God’s active grace and works in the lives of his people!

My heart easily becomes mired in the discouragements of this world

A world that has turned itself upside down

The messy half-heartedness of many who claim to love Christ

Believers who are under immense burden

My own weaknesses which are ever on display

These realities seem to slap me in the face each day

Yet, these are not the greatest realities in this world or in my life!

God is ever sovereign over all things

Christ has already conquered sin, death and Satan

The Holy Spirit is actively preparing each believer to be glorious images of Jesus

Sometimes these realities are submerged under the flow of events and my own activities. So I must seek them out. Every believer is called to glorify God, which means we are responsible to look for and hold up the evidences of God’s glorious grace at work

The Holy Spirit not only freshly reminded me that he is abundantly at work; he also freshly convicted me that I need to live with greater awareness of his graces around me

God deserves that I do this

My soul needs me to do this

Gospel mission impels me to do this

As God’s people, may we look for and celebrate the graces of God in us and in each other. Although they may seem small and at times mundane – they are actually marvelous evidences of our God wonderfully at work

When we see an evidence of grace – exalt it in your heart and praise it with your lips

But don’t stop there; let’s get in the habit of identifying those evidences of grace to one another as a way of fulfilling 1 Thessalonians 5:11 which instructs us to “encourage one another and build one another up”

Let us exercise faith as we celebrate these evidences of God’s grace, for they are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. For God is working at a level that will eternally display his transcendent standard of glory!

SOMEONE IS IN CONTROL . . AND IT’S NOT YOU

We generally think, “In control = good”, and “out of control = very bad”!

Who really likes to feel that people and circumstances are out of our control.

Yet, life not only is out of our control, it is rather important for us to recognize this fact.

When we think we “are in control” or if we live trying to “be in control”, that is actually a bad place to be.

One of those bad things is that we mix up the role that belongs to us with the role that belongs to God. We are terrible at trying to be God (despite the fact that we work at it rather frequently).

My friend, Ricky Alcantar from Cross of Grace Church in El Paso, Texas wrote this article on facing the reality of it being good to know life is out of our control, “Fear Not, The Universe Is Wildly Out of Your Control”.

This is a healthy and restful lesson to learn.

THE AMAZEMENT OF LIFE CAN ONLY BE EXPLAINED BY GOD

 

This is a fascinating video of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

I am baffled how anyone can watch this process and affirm that evolution explains it.

Evolution is treated as if it’s an overseeing god. Nature is treated as if it is a reasoning force which places instinct within all living creatures so they know how to live. How does a fish instantaneously know how to swim or a mosquito to fly?

When a worker Honey Bees finds a pollen source, it returns to the hive and perform a “dance” that instructs the other bees in its direction and distance. Where do all Honey Bees learn the dance and how to interpret it?

If evolution is correct, then all that exists is matter. How do we even explain consciousness, when all that exists are atoms of matter?

But evolution is not about reasoning, it is about not wanting to submit to our God, before whom we are all responsible.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.04.16

“Why we can trust Jesus in everything”

John 14:1-7

Jesus Farewell Discourse is preparing his disciples and us for troubles ahead

 

Know Jesus is Worthy of Your Trust (v1)

God is always the overarching reality of life

He is un-improvable and altogether perfect

We need to keep comparing our troubles to God! 

If you are thinking ‘I do believe in God’; do you believe enough ‘not to be troubled’?

To ‘believe’ in God is to believe in what he is like – which is to trust him

Jesus adds “believe also in me”

What do we trust about Jesus? (v6)

He is the Way – specifically to salvation, which proves his commitment to us

He is the Truth – many have some truth, but Jesus is complete truth

He is the Life – eternal, full and satisfying life

Since God is a transcendent being, he can seem distant

But Jesus says to ‘know me’ is to ‘know my Father’ (v7)

As God in flesh, Jesus reveals God more fully and more intimately

 

Know You Have an Eternal Future (vs 2-3)

Our troubles take place on earth, but they all lead to eternity

Enemies swept away; and all troubles with their pain and weariness will disappear

God works in us here and he uses us here, but our goal is not here

We should face our troubles with thoughts of greater glory, because that is our reality 

The image in v2 of Jesus ‘preparing a place’, conveys activity on our behalf

Jesus is preparing to bring us into fellowship with the Father

He presents our future as ‘a room’ in my ‘Father’s house’

The cultural context is of a father adding to the family home to make room for his grown children

The point is not the lavishness of the home; it is our belonging and relationship

God wants to share his eternity with us in his home, to eat at his table and share life with him

To God, every trouble we have is meaningful for eternal reasons

He is not simply aware of your trouble; he is thoughtful and active in them

vs 1-7 declares God is for us, and no trouble we experience indicates otherwise

 

Know Jesus is Coming For You (vs 3-4)

(1)  He is coming to rescue us:  troubles may seem to drag on, but they are not our destiny

(2)  He is coming to set things right:  justice will come, truth will prevail, and Christ will be exalted

(2)  He is coming to bring us home:  to be with him where it is safe

 

How Did Jesus Handle Troubles?

We saw in John 13:21 that Jesus at times was troubled 

This shows us that 14:1 has to do with not ‘letting’ trouble capture our ‘hearts’

Jesus had to apply his own words about a troubled heart in Matthew 26:36-44

Jesus was already a man whose thoughts were filled with Father (John 4:34)

Jesus’ prayer contained honesty and submission (vs 36-42)

Jesus prayed with persistence (vs 42-44)

During Jesus’ troubles, he did what he told his disciples

He affirmed his trust in the Father

He looked to the eternal purpose before him (Hebrews 12:2)

IT’S GOOD TO BE IN AWE!

Paul Tripp writes helpful books, and his new book “Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do” does not disappoint.

There are two things Tripp does exceptionally well in his writing

1.  He gets to the biblical heart of the matters we face

2.  He applies and illustrates the truths he shares with examples from everyday life which connect to all of us

The thrust of Tripp’s latest book is that the core reason for messiness and breakdowns in our lives is because we don’t have our “awe” in proper alignment.

In addition to addressing this issue for life in general, Tripp specifically helps us look at how this applies to the two areas that dominate our life – our family and our job.

I highly recommend “Awe” and anything else by Paul Tripp you can read

A CLEARER LOOK AT OURSELVES

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People are not very good at assessing themselves.

This improves when we become believers, because the Holy Spirit has enlightened us, and we begin using God’s Word to guide us.

Yet, even as believers, we can drift into distorted views about how good we are, because we compare ourselves with the worst of people rather than to the perfections of God.

It is a simple yet, foundational truth, that we cannot see anything in this world clearly –including ourselves– unless we continually have Christ in our line of vision.

I was reminded of this reality while recently reading from “The Institutes of Christian Religion” by John Calvin. Who amazingly wrote his first draft of this classic systematic theology while still in his twenties!

These thoughts by Calvin were under the heading, “Estimating Our Spiritual Good”. May they remind us of where we need to keep our attention.

Because nothing appears within or around us that has not been contaminated by great immorality, what is a little less vile pleases us as a thing most pure – so long as we confine our minds within the limits of human corruption. 

Just so, an eye to which nothing is shown but black objects judges something dirty white or even rather darkly mottled to be whiteness itself.

So it happens in estimating our spiritual (goodness).  As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods. 

Suppose we but once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and to ponder his nature, and how completely perfect are his righteousness, wisdom and power – that straightedge to which we must be shaped.  Then, what masquerading earlier as righteousness was pleasing in us will soon grow filthy in its consummate wickedness. 

What wonderfully impressed us under the name of wisdom will stink in its very foolishness.  What wore the face of power will prove itself the most miserable weakness.  That is, what in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God.