burdens

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.21.15

When life is hard, God is still here       

Psalm 6

The Psalms connect our struggles, fears and questions, with the greater realities of God’s presence with us

 

Concerns We Have In Bringing Burdens To God

1.  We are fearful God will respond as we deserve (v1)

David recognizes we never deserve God’s “grace”

Whether or not our sin caused our current problem, we are sinners

God’s help is plentiful, but it is always a grace

Knowing this, should effect how we come to God

We approach with a heart of humility, submission and gratitude

We don’t accuse God of being unfair  

Knowing we are undeserving, should never keep us from coming – otherwise no one could ever come to God!

We come with confidence in Christ, and how his life, death and resurrection allow mercy to flow

2.  We become discouraged that are needs are far beyond our strength (v2)

We think we are capable of solving most problems, but we are actually fairly helpless

We cannot fix people, stop aging, change hearts or stop evil

We all realize we need God sometimes, but we need to see that it’s a constant need

Encouragement is found when we embrace our weakness and God’s infinite strength

3.  We struggle with how long God allows our burdens to last (v3)

We expect trouble will come, but when it doesn’t go away our heart murmurs

Like David, we can be honest about how this is hard for us. God wants open communication, he wants conversation

But, he also deserves our trust, our having an eternal perspective, and our contentment in him

4.  We feel as if God has turned away from us (v4)

Even though we may “feel” this way, we shouldn’t remain in a perspective based on our feelings

We answer how we feel and what our limited eyes see – with biblical truth

We apply what the Bible tells us about God, his gospel, and his covenant with us

5.  We think God hasn’t given us enough grace to fulfill his purposes for us (v5)

David wants to praise and serve God for the sake of the people who are living

He is showing that he is not like people who only want God’s help so they can go on their way

We were created to know and worship God, but sin perverted that

Jesus saves us in order to return us to that purpose

How we come to God for help should keep that agenda in view

It Is Real That Burdens Hurt and Wear Us Down (vs 6-7)

This is part of life in a world that rebels against God’s rule

Faith and godliness stop our own sin that would bring sorrow, but it doesn’t keep us from being hurt by the world’s sin

The Psalms show that God gives space and grace to share hurts

As his people, we should be that way with one another (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

We cannot imitate God unless we are serious about biblical community

This should be exciting! We can imitate God, impact each other and get the attention of people who haven’t see God’s power to transform

God’s grace and presence is a greater reality than our burdens (vs 8-10)

The Psalmist’s hope is based in God’s character and faithfulness

v8  God sees our burdens and understands how they affect us

v9  God does listen to us and he knows how to respond

v9  God will respond – he never ignores us

 However, v10 those who ignore God, will ‘be put to shame’

In the end they will discover all their labors wasted pride empty

Burdens and God’s grace are both real

But the realities of God are far greater and they should be what rules over our heart

Which reality rules how you live – that life is hard or that God is faithful?

QUESTIONS THE BIBLE ASKS YOU #4

Have you noticed that life so often seems to be a battle? Instead of out into the world, it can feel like we are going off to war!

A normal day can be like a walk through a briar patch with thorns clawing at us from every side. And who knows when the next monster is going to leap out of a hiding place to attack us.

These monsters are not just in the world, some of them are in our own fears, failures and accusations. God who has saved us forever and is committed to caring for us just as long, reminds us He is our greatest reality by asking us this question:

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Here is God’s question to us in its context from Romans 8:31-39  

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you have a confident answer to God’s question?

SERMON LEFTOVERS 3.17.14

“God is Always the Main Character”

Exodus 1-2

The Book of Exodus describes how God makes Abraham’s descendants into a nation forming a covenant to make them the people of His presence

That promise was repeated to his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. Facing famine, Jacob’s family goes to live in Egypt, where his son Joseph, by God’s power had become leader under Pharaoh. Exodus picks up 400 yrs later

The current condition of the Israelites (chapter 1)

  • The family that went into Egypt, multiplied into a nation
  • But they are enslaved in a land that is not their home
  • When they continue to flourish, persecution increases

A ray of hope enters the story (chapter 2)

  • Providential circumstances bring Moses into Pharaoh’s household
  • Moses was prepared to lead and had a sense of calling (Acts 7:22-25)
  • That hope is dashed, not by the Egyptians, but by Moses’ own sin

Where was God and his deliverance?

Exodus opens with evidence that God was blessing the people (v7)

But that description is followed by cruel bondage and injustice (vs12-14)

Every time a good step happens, evil seems to consume it

I think most of us can find this “reality” in our lives: evil is persistent, people disappoint and life gets worse

Life can lead to these 4 false conclusions about God

#1. God at times is distant and detached from our lives

Troubles seem to be in control of our life

When we cry out to God, he seems silent

The Biblical reality:  God is always here and the main character

God was the main character as Israelites multiplied, as the midwives were courageous, as Pharaoh decreed, as Moses’ basket floated, and as he hid in Midian

God is the main character because his plan is the one that is fulfilled

God is not just existent, he is always present

God speaks as we read his word and listen to the Holy Spirit in us

The biggest reason we are not aware of God’s presence, is our heart not his

#2. God intervenes at times but we have to make life work

We often have a backward sense of ability, and responsibility

Moses failed by trying to take charge of the situation rather than depending upon God to deliver

The Biblical Reality:  God is the source of all fruitfulness (John 15:5)

Jesus is not condoning inactivity, he’s declaring our dependence

Bible calls us branches, servants, followers, stewards and vessels

God is the only reason our hearts beat, sin is overcome, and people are reached

We don’t have to be strong enough or have all the answers, but we do need to obey and trust

#3. God’s kingdom is in a back and forth war with evil

The Biblical Reality:  God is always, eternally and completely victorious

“The movement of all history is leading to the moment when all will bow and confess Jesus is Lord!” (Josh Stahley)

Are you in Christ?  All your burdens will culminate in wondrous victory

We need to re-label our struggles to “God is gloriously at work”

#4. God proves himself by removing our problems

The Israelites did escape Egypt, but changing their scenery didn’t remove their problems; their own sin and the sin of others followed

The Biblical Reality:  God proves himself in Christ

In this sinful world burdens will always persist

But Christ is an eternal deliverer, who is bringing us into an eternal kingdom

This world will never be our kingdom; we can enjoy it, but don’t hope in it

Being called to serve Jesus’ kingdom is not an interruption, it’s our future

Exodus is our story, it has overtaken us

It teaches what we can expect of God and what he calls for from us

We can read how these chapters end as if it speaks directly to us (2:23-25)

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.21.12

“Our God Always Reigns” Acts 12

Chapter 12 presents one story in four scenes

Scene #1  King Herod misuses his power  vs 1-4

These verses use language that heightens the sense of Herod’s power

Being under the power of circumstances we cannot control is what makes life burdensome

Scene #2  God delivers Peter

The wording in vs 4-6 emphasize that Peter is in a hopeless situation

The wording in vs 7-10 emphasize the ease in which God delivers him

This is the kind of situation we use to prove to ourselves that God really does reign

Scene #3  The Church struggles to believe Peter is free  vs 12-16

In v5 the church is earnestly praying for Peter; in v12 many have gathered into the night praying

These verses are filled with the irony of believers doubting the answer to their prayers

Scene #4  God’s judgment on Herod  vs 20-24

At first we seem to be back to what we saw in vs 1-4, Herod is the feared and exalted king

But God demonstrates that he is the true King, who has the final say

Acts 12 is our story; we are in the middle of it

We live in the middle of v1; we face a steady stream of things we cannot control

We live in the middle of v24; because our God always reigns

Most importantly, this is God’s story

God was equally sovereign in every part of this story

  • When Herod violently arrested believers, and when the gospel was multiplied
  • When James was killed, and when Peter was delivered
  • When Peter was chained between 2 soldiers, and when gates opened for him
  • When believers doubted Peter’s freedom, and when they rejoiced in it
  • When Herod exalted himself, and when he died in judgment

God is never more, or less sovereign in any situation.

He proves his sovereignty by making all events his

Even though we are in God’s story, we fret about what will happen

We lie awake at night repeatedly analyzing how God will make things work

Instead, we should analyze how any power can stop God!

How can anyone stop God?  It is impossible!  And he is our King, and we are on his side!

God’s power and sovereignty is not greater than the world, it is absolute over the world

Making worship part of daily life strengthens our perspective of trust

Our mistake is when we make judgments about God’s faithfulness in the middle of the story

We know we are still in the middle, so why do we expect to live as if we are at the end?

Since we how everything ends for world and for us – we should find rest in him

Since your burdens are only the middle of God’s story for you:

Don’t accuse God, or take time off from Him, instead trust and obey him

Don’t let anxieties rule your life, instead take joy in the God who wondrously saved you (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Don’t be fooled by what claim to be more practical paths; Herod thought his actions were very practical

Don’t remain discouraged; we often have reason to be discouraged, but we have too much glory in our pockets to stay discouraged

Since we know how our story ends:

Pursue God!  Don’t bring your hopes to God, make him your hope

Pursue people who will reinforce the value of trusting God and putting him first

PERSPECTIVE IN TRIALS

I have been reading “A Gospel Primer” by Vincent Milton as part of our family devotions.  This section on the gospel’s impact on how we view troubles is outstanding.  I hope you not only read it, but that you connect it to whatever is troubling your life.

The gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them.  For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me.  When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad.  I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials.  The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ.

Preaching the gospel to myself each day provides a lens through which I can view my trials in this way and see the true cause for rejoicing that exists in them.  I can then embrace trials as friends and allow them to do God’s good work in me.