God’s faithfulness

JUST AS HE SAID

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said  Matthew 28:5-6

I think each of us needs this same reminder to take to heart what Jesus has “said”

Every word our Lord has spoke is precious and true. Yet how many words from his mouth have you forgotten?  What has Jesus already said, that would would minister to your heart today, but it has fallen from your attention?  And what has your Savior done that proves to you his goodness and faithful remembrance of you?

Give timto remember that Jesus always remembers you.

Reflect upon how he always fulfills what he has said. 

Thank him for the amazing display of what he has already manifested to you out of his love and mercy. 

Do you embrace the title of “believer”? Then live in expectation that Christ has spoken wonderful truths about his purposes for you today, and that he always does what he says!


OUR HOPE CAN HANDLE ANY CHALLENGE

 This is the fourth in a 5 part series on Tuesdays that present the great truth of biblical Hope.

Our Hope Can Handle Any Challenge

In Christ we are never hopeless!

Our hope will be challenged in a variety of ways – but our hope can handle every challenge

The hope we have is that salvation’s entire promise will be fulfilled        

God has promised that his sovereignty and goodness will fulfill that hope

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, 30and those whom he justified he also glorified (Romans 8:28-30)

Our enemy cannot alter this hope, so he tries to distort our perspective about hope

What are some of the major challenges to our hope, and why can our hope can handle them?

The Challenge of Sin  

Satan lures us into sin and then uses it to condemn us.

He floods our thoughts with a barrage of accusations declaring God’s anger and rejection.

He wants us to give up our zeal by telling us that we will never be godly.

Hope meets the challenge

v30 tells us those who have been “justified” (saved) will eventually be “glorified” (perfected). 

Our salvation is guaranteed by Christ’s work, not by our maintenance of salvation

v29 reminds us that our salvation began by God coming to us – He is totally committed to the preservation of our relationship with Him

The Challenge of Success and Prosperity

It seems that nothing leads us to take our minds off God faster than success.

At first we thank God, but over time we become lax and fall into thinking we are self-sufficient.

We become forgetful and lesser hopes take over our attention. We spend less time with God and think about his graces less often

Our focus increasingly is on what we are accomplishing, what we think we need to do, and our ever lengthening list of wants

Hope meets the challenge

Simply look up and there Christ is – he has never left us or stopped his labors on our behalf

v28 reminds us that “we know” wonderful truths about God

We are surrounded with memorable works of God and the wonderful promises of God

Our hope is so extraordinary, just to look at one facet, is enough to outshine the empty hopes of our own success

The Challenge of Disappointment and loss

The reality of living in a world groaning under bondage (vs 20-22) is that pain and disappointment are never far

We are regularly assaulted by thoughts that “God may be real, but He is not near”

We take our failures and multiple burdens to be evidences that God has stepped back

Hope meets the challenge    

Our hope is nothing less than the person of God himself and His inability to be unfaithful

vs 28-30 repeatedly remind us that we are on an eternal trajectory. In fact life can only make sense when we look at it with an eternal perspective

God is taking our life somewhere and the final destination is not here

The Challenge of Shallow Hopes

The world is incessantly offering us their false hopes

When the world around us is only talking about these empty hopes, we can get lost in the clutter of it all. The sheer volume of hearing about them creates an obscuring fog of shallow hope.

When we see people enjoying some of these hopes, we start to think they are worth pursuing.

The world’s hopes are not a mirage, but they are a veneer – they are shallow and will wear away

Hope meets the challenge

Our hope is not simply something held out to us to grab, we are a new creation

v28 tells us our hope is in God’s work

All the efforts of this world combined cannot match the grandeur of what God is accomplishing in us and for us

The Puritan preacher, Richard Sibbes wrote:

“As an adult is no longer satisfied with children’s games; so we are no longer satisfied with what the world offers”

We have been made for greater hopes than the world could ever provide – and we have tasted that they are wondrously good

Spit out the false hopes people are trying to feed you and nourish your soul on the person of Christ who is the Bread of Life. Refresh your soul with the person of the Holy Spirit who is the Fountain of Living Waters

FROM A DARK PLACE

Depression is a dark place that not only burdens us, for unnecessary reasons it also shames us. No one wants to struggle with depression, and no one wants to be known as the weak person who cannot find their way out of this darkness.

For Christians who struggle with depression, there is the added fear of appearing as someone who is lacking in faith or godliness. Not to mention the internal struggle of wondering “why doesn’t God deliver me?”. You are not alone in this lonely place.

Keri Seavey, is a pastor’s wife who walked through this deep valley. She writes:

I wrestled with thoughts about God’s goodness and love. My clandestine fears had apparently given way to cruel doubts concerning his character.

Many famous Christian leaders throughout history spent years fighting this battle; discouraged by their bouts of depression, and frustrated that they couldn’t even understand where their depression came from.

Keri Seavey has given us a gift by sharing her struggle. Through her article, Keri helps us whether we walk through depression or know people who do.

MORE THAN WHAT WE SEE

Yesterday’s article on the Sovereign Grace Blog fits nicely with the content of the past two weeks of preaching from Exodus. And it definitely sets us up well for this coming Sunday’s message from chapter 5.

The article is by Aaron Law, from Metro Life Church, which is a terrific church our family has visited just north of Orlando, FL. The article’s title itself makes the point clear; “Our Circumstances are a Bad Barometer of God’s Presence”.

Aaron doesn’t use the events in Exodus as his illustration, but he does use the very closely associated events of Joseph’s life in Genesis, which is the preceding backdrop to the Exodus story.

As you read over these thoughts by Aaron, ask God to strengthen us in these essential truths we all need to own for ourselves.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 3.24.14

“God’s Presence is Enough”       

Exodus 3-4:16

In chapters 1-2 we saw that God is present and he is the main character even though the people of God are enslaved

Chapter 3 returns 40 years later to Moses who had fled Egypt into exile (3:1-10)

God approaches Moses

God could have appeared in any form, why choose fire?

The association of God and fire is a common and multi-layered motif in the Bible

Fire purifies and it consumes; and like fire, God is both beneficial and dangerous

That the burning bush was not consumed, is a picture of God’s gracious work in us 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Speaking out of the fire, God reveals several truths about himself

v5 God is holy: our understanding of God should always begin here

v6 God makes and keeps covenants, which are both wonderful realities

vs 7-8 God is a deliverer.

He is describing himself “behind the scenes” during Israel’s enslavement

God is always the initiator, and his purpose is to raise us up

v10 God uses people; he was sending Moses to be part of something huge!

We can also pull out a couple implied truths about God

(1)  He views time differently than we do: we focus on faster, while God focuses on eternity

(2)  He views burdens differently than we do: we want them to stop, while God looks to our growth and fruitfulness

How does Moses respond to God’s invitation?

We would think Moses would leap at the chance! Instead he gives 5 objections

1st Objection:  I’m not the right guy (vs 11-12)

Moses sense of self is more accurate than it was 40 years earlier

But God’s response is that his presence makes our inadequacies irrelevant

God doesn’t call us to be sufficient; he calls us to be a vessel and to be faithful

2nd Objection:  Who do I say is sending me? (vs 13-14)

In v6 God already said he was “The God of your Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”

However in v14 He adds one of the most significant titles of God in the Bible: “I Am”

He is declaring his self-sufficiency and sovereignty

This is the God our world rejects, the God who is self-defining and Lord of all!

3rd Objection:  No one will believe me (4:1-9)

God takes care of that by giving Moses three signs he can perform

  • vs 2-5  Moses staff will turn into a snake and back to a staff: the snake was a symbol of Pharaoh’s authority
  • vs 6-7  Moses hand will turn leprous and then be whole again: God curses and makes whole
  • vs 8-9  Water from the Nile will turn into blood: the Nile symbolized life for Egypt

In these signs, God demonstrates his pre-eminence over all Egyptian gods and rulers

4th Objection:  I’m not a good speaker (4:10-12)

God answers that he is the one who gives all abilities

Our limitations are no limit to God, who is creator and sustainer

Every person, power and obstacle we face, owe their existence to God

5th Objection and Moses real excuse:  I don’t want to! (4:13-16)

This is the only objection in which God was “angry”

Yet God is gracious, telling Moses his brother, Aaron, will speak for him

How do our excuses for neglecting serving Christ’s kingdom hold up?

The big picture in Exodus 1-4

1.  God has made a covenant and he will keep it

Difficult circumstances are never a proof against God’s faithfulness; they are his means to show it

Old Testament Israel is a picture of the New Testament Church which has been given greater promises

2.  God is present with us and he is enough

Our obstacles and burdens are real. We face real temptations and fearful things

The greater reality is that “I Am” is with us; Creator is with us; God in flesh is with us; Our Savior is with us . . and he is always enough!

What is keeping you from trusting God is enough?

IS GOD FAITHFUL?

Why would we think God is anything less than faithful?

One reason is because the faithfulness in ourselves and everyone we know has many gaps and inconsistencies, so we expect and make allowances for inconsistency even when it comes to God.

 “If we are faithless, (God) remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” 2 Timothy 2:13

2 Timothy reminds us that God unlike us, “remains” faithful. Whenever we might think God is less than faithful, we don’t see whole picture or we simply don’t grasp the character of God. If God is perfect, then He must be always and only perfect.

Another reason for lacking implicit trust in God’s faithfulness is that circumstances are not always what we want. Since we don’t see God’s good and eternal purposes, we doubt they exist. We mistaken think God being faithful means God should always treat us the way we want Him to.

The fact is we may be looking for a faithful servant rather than the faithful God.

 “I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” Psalm 119:75

Once we recognize that God is perfect and that He is not so shallow as to limit His labors to our happiness, we can agree with the Psalmist, “in faithfulness you have afflicted me”. Is God great enough to you that He can be trusted even to afflict us?

All That God is, He always is. As 2 Timothy reminds us, “He cannot deny himself”. This means God is never out of character. He will not become unfaithful:

His love for us doesn’t lessen because we failed

His goodness has not dried up because it is leading us down a difficult path

His standards don’t change because people don’t like them

His promises have not failed because we cannot see how they will work

Because God is never lacking in unfaithfulness toward us, we can become increasing faithful to Him

LIZA IRELAND SHARES HER STORY

During Easter week we had the joy of celebrating thirteen baptisms!  It is always exciting to hear their testimonies of God’s saving power and grace.  Today I want to share one of those testimonies from a young woman named Liza Ireland who came to grace after the bitter loss of both her parents.

I was born into a loving Christian home.  My parents laid a solid foundation of faith for us. I went to church twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday, because it was what my parents taught me was the right thing to do.  I grew up thinking I was going to Heaven because I went to church and was a good person.

On March 21, 1999 my daddy, who was devoted to God, passed away leaving a wife and 10 children.  Over the next two years we watched our Mom become very sick.  She eventually lost her eyesight, but she always remained faithful and believed that if it was God’s will, she would be able to see again.  I remember her telling us kids it was OK if she was never able to see this earth or us kids again, because it meant the next thing she would see would be Jesus’ face.  On May 26, 2001 she passed away.

I became very bitter and as much as I don’t want to admit it, I hated God. How could He take our loving and faithful parents from us and leave us all alone with no one to guide us through life?

The foundation they laid was weakened by the things of this world, but it never crumbled.  God never let me out of His sight for one moment!  He has never forsaken me even though I didn’t give it a second thought to forsake Him.

Praise God that He gently nudged me again.  I started attending Greentree in 2007, but never got involved.  On Sunday, February 27th, I was sitting in church listening to Pastor Kyle give a lesson on taking Jesus at His word.  Suddenly I realized I had never truly been saved.  He said “Either the entire weight of our guilt is forgiven, or it is not”.  In the middle of that service, with tears streaming down my face, I silently asked God to take over my life and save me.

Praise God, I truly believe that Jesus died on the cross to forgive me of my sins and that I am saved. He proved His love for us, when he died on that cross for us and did not save Himself.

Since then my life has been fruitful and I have been far more involved in our church. Because of my involvement, I am learning more every day.

I am at peace inside, for whatever trials, tribulations or “heat” comes my way, God will give me the strength to react in a Christ honoring way, so that my light will shine even when no one is around.

I am truly happy and I believe that whatever God has planned for me will be amazing. Praise God I am a part of the family of God!