I’ve written in line with this theme many times, but as we advance toward Resurrection Sunday, I was reading Romans 6 again this week.
v5 For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection
Paul talks much in his writings about what is coming for those of us who believe. Ephesians 1 comes to mind that the power of the resurrection is for us who believe or toward us who believe. Chapter 2 tells us we are seated with him in heavenly places. Paul says in Philippians 3 that he will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.
We like the concept of what we WILL BE. Amazingly often even self-proclaimed atheists will speak of deceased family members as “looking down on us.” I heard a prominent sports figure this week talk about his Father as “looking down and watching”. But this person is an atheist, yet we like the concept of a better world to come.
But Paul says IF…
Some folks don’t like conditional statements, but you can’t get around it. You can’t fly, unless you are in an airplane. You can’t breathe underwater, unless you have scuba gear. Conditional is part of our life.
We certainly want the likeness of the resurrection, but it doesn’t come by accident, it comes as we are united with his death
if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death
Paul says in Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection… Oh it would be great to stop there, but he continues …and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death…
Everybody wants the resurrection, but not everybody wants to die. So then, two things must happen. TWO? Yes TWO. “But I only see one pastor, united with him in death. Yes, I must die to self, surrender in faith to the work of Christ, and be united with his death, but THAT WORD, alludes to more.
“united”– symphytoi = united. But the primary definition of that word is congenital. Oh, do you see it taking shape? You know that word right? It means a disease or physical abnormality present from birth; a particular trait from birth. Do you see it? We, because of Adam, have a congenital disease called “sin”, which leads to death. I, you, we are born dying sinners.
v4 says that we were buried with Christ in Baptism in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too walk in newness of life.
So then, the CONDITION is, if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly alsobe in the likeness of his resurrection
What has to happen then is REBIRTH. I need a new birth, and that new birth gives me a new congenital condition called:
The Resurrection Life – Hallelujah! Yes Lord, Thank you for the Cross, The Empty Tomb, and the Opportunity for Salvation by Grace through faith, into LIFE.
John 11 is famous for the death and resurrection of one of Jesus’ close friends, Lazarus. Jesus gets word that Lazarus is sick and dying. But Jesus, in his Omniscience, knows that Lazarus is already dead. He says “this sickness will not end in death, but is for the glory of God”.
The last time they had been in Judea, they had attempted to stone him to death in John 10. So, when Jesus says, “Let’s go to Judea again”, the disciples aren’t keen on the idea. “uh, Teacher, they tried to stone you, and you’re going there again?” I like that “you’re”, meaning, “we’re”.
Has God ever called you to go back to a place where things were hard the last time? Have you been asked to revisit a place where you were attacked before?
I once got invited to come back to a church shortly after being at a camp with them where a person got angry with me over a minor sporting event and things got out of control. “Well Lord, ok”. Then when I got there, the issue hadn’t blown over. While I was speaking the Lord told me to do something. He told me to give my check to that person. You should know at this moment, coming out of a natural break in my schedule as an evangelist, I hadn’t worked in 6 weeks. This was my first check in 6 weeks. Ultimately, I did what God told me to do. The person didn’t want it, but I gave it anyway, publicly, and told them God told me to, and just to pray and ask God what to do with it. Then I had to go home and explain to my wife what I had just done, which of course she said, “maybe he needed it.”
Well the disciples said, “Jesus is this a good idea?” And Jesus response is a bit cryptic at first, v9 “aren’t there twelve hours in a day? If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the LIGHT OF THE WORLD” (emphasis mine). Later he explains, “Lazarus is dead… let’s go to him” and Thomas replies, “let’s go too so that we may DIE WITH HIM”. Not sure if he was expecting to die with Lazarus or with JESUS. But “let’s go”.
What does it mean to “walk in the day”. I don’t think it means from 06:00 to 18:00. It means to walk in the “light of the world” the “light of God”.
1 John 1:7 says, “if we walk in the light we have fellowship… the blood of Jesus cleanses”
Isaiah 2:5 says “come let us walk in the Lord’s light”
Psalm 56:13 “you rescued me to walk before God in the Light”
Psalm 89:15 “happy are the people who know the joyful shout; Lord they walk in the light of your face” – what is the joyful shout? “Jesus Saves”
Isaiah 9:2 “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light“
John 8:12 “I Am the light of the World”
are you with me? Jesus IS the Light. He doesn’t just contain light, give light, he IS Light. If we walk in HIS revelation, we can trust where we are going. But often he doesn’t “shine” light on everything, just the area he wants obedience, “Let’s go to Judea”. That was the only light he was giving them at first. He didn’t tell them the whole situation, or what he was going to do. Yes, an Amazing thing was going to happen. Perhaps the greatest act, before the Cross and Resurrection, was Jesus raising Lazarus. They were going to see the high point. And yet that High Point was also going to bring about renewed effort to KILL him, which was a LOW point for Him and a HIGH Point for all of us who would receive.
They had no idea what he was going to do, what would happen, maybe they will kill us… but if “failure” is the result of OBEDIENCE, then it is never failure, it is following in faithful obedience, and he will say “well done.”
That Wednesday night, I gave some money to a student, and went home with the satisfaction of obedience, and didn’t give it a second thought. Flash Forward 4 years. I was speaking at a Youth Camp. One Evening outside, I heard a voice say, “Pastor Jim can I talk to you.” The person was shadowed in the night. I came over, and stepped into the light and saw the face of that young man from 4 years before. He looked at me and said “I don’t know if you know who I am…” I said, “Yes I know who you are.” And then he said, “The last 4 years have been for this moment… You were right, I was wrong, I’m sorry, but you should know that God has called me into the ministry and I’m in school studying to be a youth minister.”
2 Corinthians 6:2 – At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you
My, my, there is a simple and profound word there, quoting from Isaiah 49:8, “I will answer you in a time of favor, and I will help you in the day of salvation. I will keep you, and I will appoint you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land, to make them possess the desolate inheritancesv9 saying to the prisoners “come out” and to those who are in darkness, “show yourselves” v10 they will not hunger or thirst, they scorching heat or sun will not strike them; for their compassionate one will guide them and lead them to springs. v11 I will make their mountains into a road and my highways will be raised up… v13 shout for joy, you heavens! Earth Rejoice
So, some observations about how God works, and how God seems to hear us at time, and raise his hand to assist at times, and other times seems silent and passive.
First, if God seems to be “not listening”, not answering, then either it is not his will, or it is NOT the Appropriate Time. Everything has a time. And If he is NOT Helping, then either we are working on our OWN Project, or it isn’t the Right Day. Because God WILL hear and he will help, but always at the right time and on the right day.
Paul is speaking of Isaiah 49. And verse 7 reminds us that The Lord is Faithful. It says in v8 I will Answer in the time of favor, I will Help in the day of salvation.
Stop there for a second. Yes, we are talking about the day of the Messiah coming. The Grace of Jesus. We NOW live in that day. Now IS the day , now IS the time for salvation. Since the Cross, it is always that day and time, while it is still called “today”.
But there is a principle here that God is Faithful always to do what he says. So, it is important for us to Trust Him in the Meantime, until the right day and the acceptable time.
Isaiah 49:8b says I will keep you and I will appoint you.
In the Meantime, while we wait for the right time, for the right day, trust the Lord who keeps US and Keeps his PROMISES.
He will fulfill. He will restore. He will call prisoners to “come out”. He will give light to those in darkness, pastures to the desolate. He will provide for those who hunger and thirst. Your hardest climb on mountains will still be a road to him. Why? 49:9 for our Compassionate Onewill guide and lead
I’ve heard it said, “where God Guides He Provides” and I’ve added, “Where he leads, he Proceeds.”
I’m not sure what you THINK this is going to be about, but let me say right up front, it is NOT about gossip and other useless whispers. This is about the Whispers of the Spirit of God. This is about the Quiet Words that prepare us for the Loud Battles. This is about the things in the secret, that prepare for the public.
Matthew 10:26-30 – Jesus speaking says therefore, don’t be afraid of them since there is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered… nothing hidden that won’t be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light, what you hear in a whisper, proclaim on the housetops. Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body… aren’t 2 sparrows sold for a penny? Not one falls without the Father’s consent… Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.
So much beauty here, but this is our Savior speaking real to us about the struggles of ministry. This is our King and General sending the 12 out into battle and telling them the reality of going on Mission for God.
So, let’s start with the Sparrows first. Matthew tells us that Jesus said, “aren’t 2 sparrows sold for a penny?”. But when Luke tells the story he records, aren’t 5 sparrows sold for 2 pennies? These are NOT conflicting accounts they are 2 tellings of the same event. Can’t you see Jesus walking with his disciples in the market? There a sellers selling little sparrows perhaps for those who can’t afford something better. “2 Sparrows for a penny” “2 Sparrows for a penny”. And then another says “5 sparrows for 2 pennies.” They are just throwing in the 5th one to sweeten the deal. I used to preach a sermon titled, “The Forgotten Sparrow”. Sometimes we feel like that don’t we, and Jesus says, “you are worth more than many sparrows. Oh he loves his sparrows. He does not let one fall without his consent. And so WE know that he loves us MORE than a flock, more than all the flocks of sparrows, so if he cares for them, you, do NOT BE AFRAID, especially out there on the battlefield. You will not fall without his consent.
Don’t be afraid, I cannot control fearful circumstances, but I CAN Combat Fearful Feelings, and Counter Fear with TRUTH.
You perhaps have heard me said, and one day I will finally write this book, but I believe fear is based on a combination of 4 Lies or False Perceptions.
We believe 1) I’m alone 2) I’m Unloved 3) I’m Unable and / or 4) I am Uninformed. In other words, No one knows, No one cares, I can’t, or I don’t know how. All of those assumptions are false for the child of God. You are never alone, always loved, able, and instructed, if you are of Christ.
Don’t be afraid because you think no one knows, or no one cares, or you can’t survive this, don’t know how, because it will be uncovered, revealed.
In the meantime, seek the whispers of your loving God and Savior in the dark. It’s like a parent soothing a child at night, haunted by nightmares. Our God quiets us with singing, he whispers “peace be still”. He tells us, “I know child, I’m here, I care, I love you, you can do this.”
He will give us revelation in the dark, in the quiet place to get us through the battle in the daytime. Are you rising early in the darkness? Are you spending time in the late dark hours? Are you pulling away to spend time listening to the Lord? It’s that only idea of a “quiet time”. I’m NOT telling you when it needs to happen, or even HOW to do it, but it NEEDS to HAPPEN. Are you spending time crying out to him, listening to him, learning from him?
Too many people want to stand and proclaim, but they haven’t spent time with the Savior in the dark so they don’t have anything to say. But if we are listening to the whispers alone, then we are ready to speak in public. We will know what to say, and when to say it.
Then we understand in the hard times that he knows, he has consented though perhaps not caused your circumstances. And we know that YOU are WORTH His Time. You are Worth His Effort. You are Worth the Death of the Son of God. So, don’t be afraid, draw near, listen, then speak boldly, and survive the struggle, and thrive in it.
Why is this important? You go back to v16 and he says “I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves… beware… bear witness… you will be given what to say… the Spirit of your Father is speaking through. Yes, we understand betrayal, and death threatens, but you are NOT above your masters, if it happened to him, guess what may happen to us? But don’t be afraid.
Listen to the Whispers of the Savior and Go on Confident Mission
What would be said about you in Chapter 1 Verse 1 of this book of your life?
The authors of the letters often wrote what I call a “twitter bio” – you know, a short listing of words or descriptions for you at this time in your life, or specific to this current reflection of yourself.
Paul, writing to those Christians in Rome, began his letter:
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – Romans 1:1
Wow, I love that, as a preacher I see three important words of distinction
A Servant – doulos = a slave, bond servant, What I find interesting often about bond servants is that they were set free but chose to bind themselves in gratitude to their greater master. Paul says, “I’m a slave”. The sense there is that it is someone owned by another, legally, whose entire livelihood and purpose is determined by their owner. Paul says “I belong to God, I am his servant and everything about me is at his discretion.”
Then he says I’m called an apostle. The key word for me is NOT apostle, that was specific to him, but it’s the idea that he was called. That word, kletos– logos bible says “someone whose participation or presence has been officially requested; especially a request to which refusal is NOT AN OPTION. Wow, Hello! I do what I do because there is no option. God has requested my presence, with him, obeying him, serving him, in the field he chooses, and refusal is NOT an option. If it is an option, then it is not a calling.
Do you have a “call” that is from God and of which refusal is not an option?
1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul begins that letter, “Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will”
I am called as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, by God’s will, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul says he is a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and
Set apart – aphorizo = to be selected and separated for a purpose; to mark off boundaries, to mark one oneself, to appropriate for or to oneself
That word “appropriate” – carries the idea of resources that have come in for some purpose, or by some means, but now has been selected and designated for something else. It means “suitable for the circumstance; devote a resource to a specific purpose; take for one’s own use”
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, and set apart from the gospel.
My twitter handle is jamesgoforthjr – my profile description says – James L Goforth Jr, Christ Follower, Husband, Father, Son, Friend, Preacher, teacher, Golfer, Musician, Songwriter, Thinker, Pastor of FBC Ferguson.
But if i made it even more focused I would say – James Goforth – Called and Set Apart Servant of Christ and the gospel he provides, Husband and Father, Friend to any who will allow, Worshipper of God.
What would verse 1 of this chapter or book of your life say?
Even more focused mine might say,
Jim Goforth – Called and set apart as a Shepherd at FBC Ferguson, a Missionary to the City of Ferguson, a lover of people, an agent of unity
Acts 26:16 – I have appeared to you For This Purpose
Staff meeting devotion for today
God always has a purpose. When he called Paul, he gave him a vision statement from the start. Oh he’d been calling Paul for awhile, “why are you kicking against the goads” that tells us that he had been trying to get Paul’s attention and prod him in the right direction, but when Paul finally listened on the road to Damascus, God cast a vision as he called him into salvation.
God always has a purpose. God doesn’t cause all things; in the way we understand causation, but he is on the throne, Lord of all things. So, as he allows things, or causes things, he has a purpose.
Joseph understood that from Egypt, when he told his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.”
Mordecai told Esther, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to royal position, for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)
God uses our life experiences for his purposes. Rocks make rapid, moving water faster. Falls increase power. God always has a purpose, as rapids and water falls shape terrain and drive seeds downstream, and power the electric grid. When we believe that God has a purpose, we can trust him with the outcome.
Esther 4:16, after committing to fast for 3 days before she acted, Esther said “If I perish, I perish.” She understood that the Lord is still Sovereign over all we just obey and move.
Back to Acts 26:15-16 – I Am Jesus… in other words, my very name is, Jehovah Saves.
So, Get Up and Stand on your feet … we get knocked down, but we get up, God is in the Knocking down and in the Rising.
“Get Up” – the word means to rise for the purpose of action. Think about that tomorrow morning, Rise for the purpose of Action. Plant your feet and STAND.
I think of Joshua telling the Israelites, consecrate yourselves today for tomorrow the Lord is going to do something amazing. Often God doesn’t work because he spoke but we haven’t moved, we haven’t risen, gotten up, made ready, stood, ready to be used.
Get Up… Stand, “FOR” – that little preposition means into, in, for the purpose of …
God says to appoint you… Oh My, we need to do LESS Giving of Appointments to God, and Let HIM GIVE US Appointments. He is the vine, WE are the Branches.
to appoint you as a Servant and a Witness – that’s a beautiful two-fold ministry, serve and witness. That word for servant is NOT doulos that bondservant. It is hyperetes = officer, assistant. We are an officer under the authority, and mission of King Jesus. to Witness, martys = see and report. We are to serve and witness to what we HAVE SEEN and WILL SEE – Oh there is a past and a future in the work of witnessing the move of God. What have you seen, what will you see God do.
And he tells Paul that he will use him to open the eyes… so that they may turn from darkness to light, from the power of Satan, and receive forgiveness and a share
Oh, praise God our ministry is to tell people the wonder of forgiveness but also that there is a portion for us in the wonderful inheritance of Christ Jesus our Lord
What a message, what a vision God is calling us into.
Last Sunday’s message recording had a glitch and didn’t make it, so let me give you a condensed version
Do you ever wonder if maybe you heard God wrong? Or maybe you were slow in getting started, or unexpected obstacles arose, or uncontrollable circumstances arose. Maybe you’ve gone too far the wrong way. Now, you feel like perhaps you’ve lost your chance? Well Abram knew that feeling.
God gave him a clear call and a clear promise in Genesis 12: The Lord said to Abram: Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; … 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land”…
But a lot had happened since then. Abram had been through famine, war, faced Pharaohs and Kings, he had lied and cheated to protect himself. He had worshipped the Lord, had displeased the Lord. 20 years had passed, and Abram wondered, “Is the Deal still on?” “Have I missed my chance”? “Have I Disqualified myself”?
READ Genesis 15:1-7
The Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision…Do not be afraid, I am your shield, Your reward will be very great.
There are some important truths for us to consider, First:
1. Don’t Settle for Less than the Vision of God
Don’t Be Afraid
Don’t Let Fear make You impatient
Don’t in impatience make your ownway when the promise seems “slow” in coming to pass. God does not delay, he is not slow, that’s what 2 Peter 3:8-9 teaches. God’s clock runs differently from ours, and it also runs PERFECTLY. Fear is often the issue and is manifested in Lack of Trust
God says, “do not be afraid, I am your shield, and great reward“
We talked about fear a few weeks ago. Fear is based on lies we believe:
I’m alone – no one knows
I’m unable – I can’t
I’m uninformed – I don’t know how
I’m unloved – no one cares
Those are lies, but we think they are true… Yet God says: DO NOT BE AFRAID
God says here: “DON’T be Afraid.” How do we fight fear? With FAITH!
Make Sure the Path Leads you to God’s Vision
God had promised him a “great nation” and “offspring”. Abram thinks that he must have “heard God wrong” or “missed his chance”, so he needed to find another way. I don’t think he was mad at God, but just resigned himself to doing things a different way.
You have given me no children… So a servant … will be my heir
He was going to make Eliezer his “son” and heir. Eliezer was a good man, Abram’s most trusted and faithful servant. This was a “good plan”, but Eliezer, good as he was, was no more than a SUBSTITUTE for God’s Best!!
In his book, “Good to Great“, Jim Collins says “Good is the enemy of great.”
“We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good — and that is their main problem.” Collins writes, “That good is the enemy of great is not just a business problem. It is a human problem. If we have cracked the code on the question of good to great, good schools might become great schools. Good newspapers might become great newspapers. Good churches might become great churches.”
God’s path is always GREAT
Be Honest About Your Reservations
Sometimes we get Stuck because we won’t be honest about where we are. We say the right thing. Make appearances of doing the right thing, but aren’t honest with God about our reservations, frustrations, fears, anger, with others and even with God.
V2 – Abram says, Lord God, what can you give me, since I am childless… Look, you have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.
Abram doubts his ability not God’s ability. “Lord I’ve been willing, I left my hometown, I’ve come with you on this journey, but here we are, 20 years later, and we are past the opportunity. You didn’t give it and I can’t do it.”
If you’ve come to the end of your rope… if you’ve tapped out your resources… if you no longer have anything to offer… Then maybe God has your right where he needs you.
2. Take a Second Look at God’s Vision
I Am Your Shield
15:4 now the word of the Lord came to him… this one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.
When God gives us a word, it may seem impossible, but if it is God’s word, he’s not looking for our help, or a different plan. He’s not looking for our permission to change the process.
If it seems unbelievable, that’s what God does.
Step Outside The Tent
Sometimes it’s hard to see from INSIDE. It’s hard to see past the “reality”.
Abram looked around the tent and all he could see was no children, no blessing, no fulfillment of the vision. Inside the tent, you can only see so far. Inside the tent our view is limited, our imagination is limited. Inside the tent you are blinded from seeing the beauty of the vision.
God took him outside the Tent
An Unimaginable vision of God.
V5 Look at the Sky.
Stop looking at what is NOT and look at what IS. Look at what God has already done, and imagine what he can do.
“Count the Stars“
– you can only get a glimpse, the gist, an idea, but you can’t even understand it. It’s imagined that IF he COULD count the stars visible they would number more than 4000, but in reality the stars in the field of vision would be more than 50,000.
If you are able to count them… your offspring will be that numerous
Abraham’s offspring included those who would be his by family birth. But they also included those spiritually who would follow his way. Those who would become “sons of Abraham”, Paul called them.
If you are able to count them…
You can count the apples in a tree. And you can count the seeds in an apple. But who can count the apples in a seed? Until the story of life is over, you never can count the apples in that one seed.
God’sways truly are higher than ours
Isaiah 55:8–9 (CSB)
8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. 9“For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The Vision of God will be glorious and beautiful
His Vision will inspire others who view it displayed in You
3. You Can Believe The Promise of God
Your Reward Will Be Great
The only thing that God required of Abram was
Believe and Walk in the Promise
The “currency” that Heaven recognizes is FAITH
Hebrews 11:1 (CSB)
1Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Then Hebrews 11, lists the “Hall of Fame of Faith”. It tells the story of those Saints of Old who were faithful to follow God. None of them were perfect, but they were full of Faith. Not full of excellence, not full of strength, not full of talent, or so many things we might list. But they had FAITH.
And then Hebrews 12 continues
Hebrews 12:1–2 (CSB)
1Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
How do we join the Hall of Fame of Faith? Were they “SUPER-SPIRITUAL”? No, they were real, they struggled, they waivered, they fell down.
“Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness”
believed – means confirm/trust
credited – parallel to a bookkeeping transfer, like an item is moved from one column to another. Abraham’s faith is moved into the column of Righteousness
Romans 4:17–21 (CSB)
17As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations— in the presence of the God in whom he believed, the one who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. 18He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do.
He believed based on the Power and Faithfulness of the One making the promise
See it as alreadycompleted
Paul speaks of us as believers in Romans 8 and says that those he “foreknew, he predestined, called, justified and glorified” All of those things are in the Past Tense, COMPLETED. Before we ever knew, it was already true in God’s mind.
Live in it untilGod brings it to fulfillment
Abraham so fully believed here; that years later when he was called to Sacrifice Isaac, he carried on without even a doubt because he believed God was going to fulfill his promise, and it wasn’t hinging on Isaac, but on God.
Before Faith flowered, Abraham saw God’s promise based on his own ability, but AFTER Faith was credited as Righteousness, he lived ACCORDING to it, then he knew That the promise wasn’t based on him, it wasn’t on Isaac, the Promise was Based ON GOD the Giver of the Promise.
Faith is what pleases God.
Everything else is a byproduct of the fact that you believe him.
John 6:27–29 (CSB)
27Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him.” 28“What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. 29Jesus replied, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent.”
If you’re current situation doesn’t seem to fit the vision, trust the God of the vision in spite of the nature of the circumstance.
Remember what he’s alreadydone for you
Abram had to become a NOBODY before God could work through him.
“I brought you From…”
Oh my don’t forget where you have been, from wince you come
Ur was a place of false worshipers, idol worshipers, it was the area of Nimrods people.
I brought –
You didn’t get to God by anything you have done
I brought you
You didn’t leave because you thought of it
I brought – yatsa = to come, to go forth
I brought you FROM
– The heart of the message of the Gospel is “REPENT” – come FROM where you are …
I the Lord brought you from Ur… TO GIVE you this land to possess
Oh yes, Lord. The call of God is based on HIS Promise, on His Power, Based on his GRACE
To give you this land to POSSESS
Nehemiah 9:7–8 (CSB)
7You, the Lord, are the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and changed his name to Abraham. 8You found his heart faithful in your sight, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites…
God says, “I wanted to save you because I had a plan that included YOU
God says, “because of my power I delivered and continue to deliver you”
He didn’t have to do anything, but it was his GRACE, working in Abram’s life that gave him what he didn’t deserve. He brought him to a place of promise and blessed him over and over.
WillyougoOutside the Tent with God?
Jeremiah 31:16–17 (CSB)
16This is what the Lord says: Keep your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for the reward for your work will come— this is the Lord’s declaration— and your children will return from the enemy’s land. 17There is hope for your future— this is the Lord’s declaration— and your children will return to their own territory.
Will You Believe?
Walk in Faith?
Don’t Be Afraid – BELIEVE
I Am Your Shield – Rest In Me
Your Reward Will Be Great –– I Have Your Reward – I Am Your Reward – Your Reward is GREAT
I was reading again this morning a favorite encounter with God in Genesis 28
Jacob came from that wonderfully dysfunctional family in Abraham’s line. They certainly put the fun in dysfunction didn’t they? Well they aren’t so much different than we are, are they? Jacob had tried to arrange his future, even though God had already declared that he would be the lead, even before he was born, but he tried to “work it out” for himself. Hmm, I wonder where he learned that from? (Abram). But after he stole his brother’s birthright, Isaac sent him to find a wife among his family relatives in Paddan-aram. Along the way to Haran, he stopped to spend the night. Genesis 28:11 says he took one of the stones from the place, put it there at his head, and lay down in that place.
On my desk, I have a little collection of stones. They are from different places where I have been, reminding me of things I have done places I have gone. There is a piece of coral I got with my wife in Tulum, Mexico, there is a stone from the place where Paul met Lydia, outside of Philippi, there is a piece of volcanic rock from a hike with my wife in Guatemala to the top of an active volcano, there is a little piece of tile from near the Inn where the Samaritan brought the man injured by thieves, and several others, even a piece of salt rock from the Dead Sea. They remind me of things that have happened in life. When our sons were little we collected a rock from ever state we’d been to, every significant place, and we would carry them home and place them in the rock garden in front of our house.
Well this stone, was just a place to lay his head. And yet v12 says and he dreamed…
Oh my my my, do you take time to dream? You should dream, we should dream more. We should imagine the things that God can do because of what Ephesians 3:20-21 reminds us. Paul said, “now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us – 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.(CSB)
We need to dream more, we need to imagine what God CAN do because he CAN do MORE than we can ask or think, dream or imagine, exceedingly abundantly, immeasurably more than … so we need to dream.
But THIS dream was more than just thinking, or imagining, but God was at work revealing himself to Jacob. Jacob needed to begin to understand who God was, and what he could do. And he saw, in his dream, a stairway from the earth reaching to heaven. And there were angels of God, that is messengers of God, and they were coming down and they were going up. Messengers of God and Messages of God, come FROM God, do his work, and Isaiah 55:10-11 tell us that things from God, do what GOD plans, and then they return to God. God is both the source and the destination. The messengers and messages of God are also for God’s intentions, that passage in Isaiah says that God’s word DOES what God INTENDS, what he purposes, what pleases him.
And seeing this amazing scene, v13 says, there above it stood the Lord (NIV) or The Lord was standing there beside him. Oh wow things are more than they seem. This is a Christophany, a Theophany. This is an appearance of God, God the Son, because John tells us John 1:18 no one has seen God (the Father). So if we see “God” in the Old Testament, it’s Jesus. So there is this beautiful revelation of the working of God, but it’s NOT about the working, it’s about The LORD! And his message for Jacob is, I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham, and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for you I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised.
Wow, if you look back Isaac had sent Jacob to find a wife and told him he would receive “the Promise of Abraham.” And now, here is the LORD himself confirming that this promise is an eternal promise to the offspring of Abraham through Jacob.
And Jacob Woke up
Oh we should dream, but we have to wake up and come back to the world in which we live. And Jacob woke up and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it… What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God… the gate of heaven.
Oh folks. Do you realize the door to heaven, is right beside you? The place where you are IS the House of the LORD. That’s not just a church thing, it’s a world thing. What makes it so? The recognized presence of God. We need to recognize that God is right here. Jesus said, My father is always at work, and I too am working. When we walk into work, walk the streets of our neighborhood, we need to recognize that God is HERE, and he is Working, this is the house of the Lord, the Gate of Heaven, this is a HOLY PLACE. Our question needs to be, not, “is God working”? But, “Lord, what are you doing here, and how can I join you?”
Let’s get with God and ask him to open our eyes to see what he is doing. Ask him what he is saying about you, and what he is inviting, and then commit to join the messengers of God, coming and going From God, To GOD, FOR GOD.
And when God speaks, and when we join, and when God moves, REMEMBER. V18 Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel (House of the Lord)
Make note of the revealed presence of God in your life. Make a memory.
Then REMEMBER what God says, and speak it back as Truth – v20 If God will be with me and watch over me… That’s exactly what God had just promised to do… if he provides… if I return safely… then the Lord will be my God.
Oh we don’t have to make God prove himself, but when God gives us a promise, and we abide by the promise, and God does what he says, we need to be READY TO GO and to DO, according to his Word.
V22 this stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to you a tenth of all that you give me
Hear, Commit, Obey, and Give – Surely the Lord is in this place, and it is AWESOME!
Let’s be honest we sometimes are thinking, “what’s the least I can do to be acceptable here”? Or we will say, ”well, that’s the least I can do.”
So, here’s a study I will teach tomorrow, it’ll be up on YouTube, but I’ll give you the basics for those that prefer to read versus watch.
In Romans 11:33-36 Paul talks about the depths of the riches of the wisdom of God and that from him and through him and to him are all things
and then he says therefore… in view of God’s Mercy… present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you will discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2)
Because of God’s Mercy, Greatness, Wonder, Riches; because everything is from him, through him, and to him…
Paul says this is URGENT, when we view it according to the mercy that’s poured out on us.
And we present ourselves as LIVING SACRIFICES. Tie this into God’s mercy and we recognize there are Two Types of Sacrifices, 1) sacrifice of atonement 2) sacrifice of acknowledgement. God’s Mercy and Grace are revealed in that Christ offered the Sacrifice FOR Sin and so we Offer a Sacrifice of Praise. The Death Sacrifice is DONE, once and for all offered in Christ. What is holy and pleasing to God is when we offer our lives to him daily and moment by moment acknowledging and praise him for what he has done for us. That is TRUE WORSHIP
That is the LEAST I can Do
So, How do we do that? 2 Things
2. Do Not Be Conformed
Gene Peterson renders it don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking
we do that by NOT being Conformed. When you break down that original word it means to assume the outward expression that does not come from within. Assuming the pattern of a thing. It’s talking about putting on the special dress or costume of an occasion or office. So Paul is saying stop putting on a worldly costume, because that’s not who you are on the inside.
Then he says
3. Be Transformed
Yes, Supernaturally when we receive Christ we are a New Creation 2 Corinthians 5:17 – but that’s talking Justification, the inside. But here we are talking about Sanctification, letting our Outside start to look like our Inside.
The word is where we get the word metamorphosis. The same word is used in 2 Corinthians 3:18 when is says we are being transformed Day by Day with ever increasing likeness.
We do that then by Renewing Your Mind. We allow God to renew our thinking, our desires, and that affects our actions.
God’s Spirit – lives in us, reminds us of what God has said, intercedes for us, encourages us, and empowers us
God’s Word – 1 Peter 1:23 has birthed something new in us and 2 Peter 1:3-4 has given us everything we need for life and godliness so that we can be participants in the divine nature of God and escape this corruption
Man’s Surrender – As we humble ourselves, admit our need and inability, we drop the costume of the world at the door to our prayer closet. From that same prayer closet we put on the armor of God, living according to his holiness, we operate in the fruit of the spirit, by the gifts of the spirit in us, and find that we are being transformed. Oh that’s beautiful
Then You will KNOW God’s will
This closes the “circle” – can you see the cycle? God’s mercy is displayed to us, we offer ourselves to Him, that pleases God, in worship we take off the costume of the world, we are transformed toward his likeness, we understand his will, and that is even more pleasing, and we understand his mercy more, and we offer more of ourselves, and he is further pleased, and the circle continues.
That’s the Least We Can Do
he was offered a PERFECT Sacrifice For Our Sin, Once and For All, Died, Rose, Ascended to the Father, there he intercedes for us. And SO, I want to present myself as a living sacrifice to him, holy, pleasing, not conformed to the world but transformed by renewed thinking, an act of true worship to the object of our affection
I’m preaching a series in the first 12 chapters of Genesis, entitled “In The Beginnings”
This week we were in Chapter 11. This series has been a broad sweep with only one sermon in each chapter, trying to see the big picture. The big picture is that God is at work in creation, in family development, in correction, in the second chance, we will finish with ch12 and the beginning of Abraham’s line, from whence will come the Messiah, an answer to the promise of God in Genesis 3:15 to “bruise the head of the serpent”.
So, in chapter 11 the most famous story is the Tower of Babel. Yes, it is an amazing story, and yes I believe it. But God inspires the telling of the story, we get the details, and then the Story goes on. The Purpose of Man is to Glorify God and to enjoy him forever. That’s what The Westminster Confession says. That’s what got these people in trouble. It’s NOT that they didn’t know God, they knew him, but they forgot or abandoned their purpose. Paul seems to be writing their story in Romans 1, but he is writing all of our story. Though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude… exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images… They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator(Romans1:21-25)
So, let me give you the last part of my message yesterday and write about,
– Returning to our Purpose
Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson, preaching Body of Divinity – a series on the Westminster Confession, was addressing the Chief end of man – to glorify God and enjoy him forever. If we ask the question then, How Do I Glorify God? I want to use the 4 words that Watson uses, and then I’ll give my thoughts and comments on those words.
How do I Glorify God?
Gratitude, or a lack thereof, is where it starts and finishes. A lack of appreciation, or gratitude, leads to discontent, distance, and disobedience. STOP and think about those 3 results of the lack of gratitude for God, or anyone you are in relationship with, discontent, distance, and disobedience.
Robert Emmons of http://www.greatergood.com says that gratitude is an affirmation of goodness… recognizing that the source is outside ourselves. Georg Simmel calls gratitude the moral memory of mankind. Wow that’s good.
Forgetfulness by these descendants of Noah, quickly became discontented, distant, and disobedient to God, as they failed to appreciate the Sovereignty and Salvation of God.
Gratitude makes us faithful followers that live to glorify God. Cicero calls gratitude the mother of all virtues, and I think he has something there. When we fail to get gratitude right, the rest doesn’t fall into place.
Second, to Glorify God
That is loving worship. My PERSONAL DEFINITION of Worship is “an expression of adoration to the object of our affection” (JLG2003).
How do we do that in the daily? Jesus told us to pray, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. How is it in Heaven? You go to Revelation 4. There are 4 “Creatures” at the throne and all they do, day and night they never stop saying “holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come.And WHENEVER they do, the 24 Elders say, Lord and God you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created. – I personally believe the “24 Elders” is the church, so this is what the church does in Heaven, and it’s what we should be doing “on earth as it is in heaven”
Adoration recognizes God’s greatness, his goodness, and gives him glory in all things here on earth, just as they do in heaven.
Thirdly, to glorify God
When we talk about affection or love, we need to be more specific. Watson says that there are 2 kinds of affection or love. The first is a “love because”. He likens it to when we say “I love you for the harvest” – or we are loving the blessing. We love the raise, or our health, or our food, whatever, but we are loving the Blessing. But Watson says the affection that truly Glorifies God is to take delight in.
Oh my, when we get our “delight” in something besides God, everything else gets out of tune. If you remember Genesis 3:6, it was misplaced delight that got Adam and Eve in trouble, a lack of gratitude. God had only said, “no” about ONE THING, the tree. But 3:6 says the woman saw that the tree was good for food and DELIGHTFUL to look at… desirable…
Love, Worship, Adoration, Affection comes when we delight in God, because he delighted in ME. Oh there is nothing in my sinful self that is delightful, but he did. Psalm 18:16-19 says he reached down from on high and took hold of me; he pulled me out of the deep water…he brought me to a spacious place; he rescued me because he DELIGHTED in me.
Somebody hold my mule, I need to shout!
He delighted in me, and I delight in him because of WHO HE IS.
When I think about that word, delight, I think about the sweetest part of my relationship with my bride. When I see her smile, at fireworks, or at a favorite song, I just watch her smile, it is a delight to me, to see her smile.
Delight for God is to know what pleases him, makes him smile, and just look to his face to see him smile. That is to GLORIFY GOD.
Appreciation, Adoration, Affection, don’t lose that JOY, grateful joy and then lastly to Glorify God is
That might not be a word we use. But think Allegiance in Service.
Subjection is what those 4 creatures at the throne of God do. They stand before the throne, waiting for the instruction of God, at his Disposal, at his Discretion, reporting for Duty, for His GLORY.
And this then is the problem in Genesis 11. God gave a commission, and they wanted to do what they wanted to do. They were busy, grand, amazing, but they were NOT GLORIFYING GOD. Oh, selah, stop and think about that. God is great and greatly to be praised. He is to be adored, honored, in grateful obedient service.
Romans 11:33, 36 – oh the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways!… For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
Psalm 100 – Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to the Lord! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us, and we are his – his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever; his faithfulness through all generations.
Nimrod tried to steal God’s glory, he tried to Tower over God.