Matthew 20:22 – you don’t know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink
Often we don’t know what we are asking the Lord. We’ve all seen or read stories of a genie, “I wish for…” And we all think, “wouldn’t it be great if I had _______________”. But sometimes the literal fulfillment might not be what we thought. There is an important principle, “every change, changes every THING.”
There is an “old school” way of praying that we need to come back to, “Lord if it be your will.” “Lord, I’d like you to move in this way, but bring about your best.” How did Jesus pray, “not my will but yours be done.” There is a slice of Christian Culture that says, “If I just have enough faith.” They believe that somehow it all comes down to man’s faith. But in that scenario we are assuming that 1) We know best 2) we know the by-product. It then is always important that we have faith, 1) in God’s Ability, 2) in God’s knowledge, 3) in God’s wisdom, 4) in God’s goodness, 5) to follow and trust God with the outcome.
So, here Jesus says, “you don’t know what you are asking.” When you back up to v20, Momma Zebedee brings her boys to Jesus and says, “Promise that my boys can sit on your right and left in the Kingdom.”
And Jesus says, “You don’t know what you are asking.”
Kingdom reward DOES have earthly struggles. What she asked is like me saying, “promise me that I can WIN the Marathon I just signed up for, my first.” Yeah, the problem is, there is a price to be paid to prepare. There is an effort necessary to complete that task. I may not have the capacity for that task, even IF I do the work. I know of marathon runners that HAVE the capacity to do the pace needed to win, and yet still get to a place in the race when their bodies quit, and they have passed out from the exhaustion.
Jesus asks, “are you able to drink the cup” – Mark adds, “to be baptized with the baptism which I am baptized” – Can you be immersed with what it takes? And surprisingly, a bit ignorantly, if not arrogantly – James and John answer, “Yes we are” – mighty bold statement. They were ready, at least they thought they were.
Then Jesus makes a surprising statement – “you WILL indeed drink my cup.”
boys, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you WILL drink the cup of suffering, the bad news is the results will be different that you are hoping or thinking.
Following Jesus is about – Following JESUS, not about where we get to sit. Being In the Kingdom is the result of the work of Christ, and our faith filled reception of it, anything extra is, well, extra.
Jesus says, “to sit at my right or left is not mine to give, it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
Wait, so if I obey, and follow Christ, and prepare, and I’m good at what I do… I don’t get a mega church, and big earthly success? Not Necessarily
So, you are saying that God has a plan, a purpose, and my path doesn’t mean the same results as everyone else? Not Necessarily
Jesus had already told them in Matthew 19:28 that they were going to have Twelve Thrones to judge Israel. So they had a huge promised task and reward, the Sons of Zebedee just wanted assurance of greater notoriety, “hey mom, can you help us?”
The Call is to Deny Self and follow him. The certainty then is that the work of Christ has provided all we need for life and godliness, so any additional outcome, besides Heaven and inclusion in the Kingdom is wholly on the purposes and plans of God.
Jesus, divine yet incarnate, subordinated himself to the Father, he relied on the power of the Holy Spirit, so what are WE to do? At the beginning of THIS chapter, Jesus tells the parable of workers who worked, full days, part days, and just a few minutes and they all got what? They all got the same reward. So then, we are quibbling about recognition not even reward, so regardless, let it go.
This makes the other 10 disciples angry, and Jesus has to sit them ALL down in vv25-28. Service isn’t about Sovereignty but about Surrender, Subjugation. Jesus says, “the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… it must NOT be THAT way among YOU. On the contrary, whoever wants to be great must be a servant… The Son of Man did not come to BE Served, but to Serve, and to give his life.
Giving of my life doesn’t just mean to die. It means to release control and recognition, for the sake of a greater dominion.
Let me add one thing:
Don’t worry if there will be enough reward and recognition for you in Heaven, there WILL be. There will be reward, there will be crowns, there will be blessing, and it will be MORE than we can imagine. But when we get there and when we receive it, our response will be to feel unworthy, and to use whatever we receive as “worship tools”, throwing them at the feet of the One who provided it all
When death comes, when tragedy strikes, there is an opportunity to see something we would not have seen otherwise. Most of the time, what is revealed is not something “new”, just unexperienced or unbelieved.
John 11:40 – Jesus said to her, “didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?
If You Believe -(then) You would See the Glory of God
We must note first that Jesus references previous teaching, revelation – “Didn’t I tell you…”
Everything we hear of God, read in his Word, experience in prayer and worship, is preparing us for faith; faith that changes us, faith that moves us, faith that reveals the glory of God. Sometimes we just aren’t paying attention. We aren’t applying the truth. We are stuck in previous understanding. We are clouded by our circumstances, and he says, “didn’t I tell you, haven’t we been over this?”
Now we don’t here specifically which teaching the Master is referring to, but she did. It was so common as we walk with him, he teaches us. Most of his teaching with his disciples weren’t sit down, sermon on the mount moments, most were just along the way. So, have we been paying attention?
Go back in chapter 11. When word reached Jesus that Lazarus was sick, he told the 12, “this will not end in death… but that the Son… glorified.” He told them, “Lazarus is asleep, I’m going to wake him.” The disciples weren’t following what he was saying, so he said, “He is dead. I’m glad… so that you may believe”. Faith is the goal.
Then he arrives at Mary and Martha’s house, and Martha is saying, “if only you had been here, he wouldn’t have died.” Martha had faith, but her faith had a GPS location. If you had been HERE, you could have done something. And Jesus says, “your brother will rise again.” And Martha confesses her theological position, the right position. She says, “I know… in the resurrection.” Not everyone believed in a Resurrection. The Sadducees did NOT believe in a Resurrection which is why they were so SAD, You See. (Oh come on, laugh or groan but enjoy it) Martha had the right theological position, but don’t let your good theology get in the way of believing God for more.
And Jesus says let me stretch your good theology, YES there is a coming resurrection from the dead, but “I AM the Resurrection and the Life… The One who believe… will live… never die… do YOU believe.”
And she responds, “Yes Lord, I believe you are the Messiah”. Ok, again, good Theology, but that’s not what Jesus asked. He didn’t ask her if he were the promised anointed one, but did she believe HE was the Resurrection, The Life.
And after her theological statement, which was the wrong answer, she walks off.
Of course, the famous verse, “Jesus wept” – don’t forget, he feels, he hurts, he knows, he cares. Then we get to the tomb, v39 “Remove the stone” i.e. “I’m getting ready to do something, if you want in, if you believe.”
And Martha says, “Oh Lord… it stinks… it’s been 4 days… the opportunity is gone.” and then he says… “Didn’t I tell you… If You Believe… you will see the glory of God“
So much of our experience is shallowed by our lack of faith. What then is the “glory of God”? I love this discussion and we can spend a lot of time there, but let me paint a simple picture, a picture that God gives. The word, in Greek, is doxa, I love it. The word in simplest form means “Reputation”. So, then what is God’s reputation? Well, let’s go to the source. In Exodus 33 and 34. Moses begs to see the glory. God says, “well you can’t but I’ll show you my back, but then God does much more”. The Hebrew word for glory is the word “chabod” and in its root sense they tell me that it means “weight”. So God, covering Moses with his hand, walks by him and declares his Reputation in Exodus 34.
The Lord, The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love and truth. Maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. He will not leave the guilty unpunished.
That’s the glory of God – and Moses fell down on the ground and worshiped him. Oh the glory of Justice and Grace. Grace is not because he looks the other way for a select few, no, it is because the fullness of Justice was poured out on Christ on the cross – guilt was punished. So, for all who believe and receive it is available and life eternal is the result. If you believe, then the goodness of his glory is available, and life is the result.
v41 – they removed the stone. The action of faith is NOT a work that secures salvation, it is just to remove the obstacle of unbelieve. If they don’t move the stone, then Jesus doesn’t do the work. If they DO remove the stone, THEY still can’t raise Lazarus, but Jesus can, and it happens according to their faith. God will do what he will do, it’s just a matter of if we get to join him.
Lazarus come out… unwrap him and let him go
v45 therefore many… who … saw did believe
My belief reveals the glory of God
My belief releases God’s power in my circumstance
My belief inspires others to believe as well
What has God been telling you? Are you paying attention? If we believe, then we will see the glory of God. It may not be what you wanted or expected, but what God wants, and it is always for His Glory
An hour is coming, and has come when each of you will be scattered. I have told you these things so that IN ME you will have peace. You WILL have suffering in this world. BE COURAGEOUS. I have conquered the world
Jesus said, “Oh NOW you believe.” How often we make little steps out of “belief” and into faith. God shows us the same thing he’s BEEN showing us for months, or years, and we finally GET IT, or at least part of it; our eyes are opened and God says, “now you see.”
“Now You Believe” – so just go on with your revelation? No… this revelation is for the hard stuff still to come. “an hour is coming, and HAS come” You GOT THIS. It is IN the struggle that we are forced into the Master’s presence. At the Master’s feet, or on our backs, knocked down by life, we focus on his voice and his message and v30 says “by THIS we believe”. How many hard things have happened that were the vehicle that moved you OUT of “self-competency” and INTO faith in God? And this new knowledge / revelation, is FOR THIS HOUR
An hour is coming and has come
There is something coming and we are now at the threshold and the increased knowledge and faith you have received is what will get you through the next chapter to come.
You will be scattered i.e. “you ain’t seen nothing yet”.
The enemy is riled up too… you will FEEL alone. But if we are on the obedient, God-honoring, Spirit empowered mission, you are NOT ALONE, never alone, “because the Father is with me”. Jesus understood what we must, that we will never be alone in the plan and purposes of God. So he says, “now that you believe… let me tell you why I revealed this… What’s God saying today? Believe and Go
So that – those are some of my favorite words in scripture – God is always a SO THAT God, not a SO WHAT, God.
So that you may have PEACE – Eirene = welfare, peace, be undisturbed
God’s revelation comes not for your permission, not even for your embrace… but that you might not be disturbed by the struggle, but have PEACE, not in the information, because peace comes not from the information but is a gift of the Holy Spirit
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.”
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
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
A couple of weeks ago I shared my thoughts on my first look at Genesis 8 for my series “In The Beginnings”
So, I thought some of you might like to see how that came together into a sermon.
Here you go, from yesterday – In The Beginnings #8 – Genesis 4:1-14
We are in a series called, In the Beginnings. We are looking at the first 12 chapters in single messages for each chapter. Creation, Man, The Fall, Calling on the Name of the Lord, The Created Order, the Invitation to Life, and Surviving the Storm (The Flood), have preceded. But God put Noah in the Ark, so he could bring him through and Begin Again.
How we begin again is connected to what we know and believe about God.
I don’t know what you are facing today. God called Noah into his plan, and we don’t know much about the next 120 years, except that Noah obeyed God doing everything he commanded him. He built an ark, he raised a family, and he was a preacher of righteousness and judgment. Then they got into the ark and the rain came.
7:11 says all the sources of the watery depths opened, and the floodgates of the sky were opened, and the fain fell for 40 days and 40 nights.
7:24 then says the water surged on the earth for 150 days.
So, 120 years, then 40 days of rain, and 150 days of surging waters. Now, stuck in the Ark with who knows how many animals, imagine that aroma. You ever feel stuck in the plan of God in the middle of the ocean with no way out?
Now, before we read chapter 8, let me set the stage.
I’m not a scientist, nor an expert on these things; but, I believe this account because:
1) God said it and inspired men to write it
2) Jesus believed it, and
3) the Apostles believed it.
There ARE great Christian scientific writers that you can read for more scientific explanations. I recommend “The Genesis Record” by Henry M. Morris. He explains what we believe the Bible teaches about the World before and after the Flood. He puts science to the commentary, and it’s a deep and profound read. Scientists like Morris teach that the world changed dramatically after the flood. They observe it to be a complete change of environment, atmosphere, the earth was different.
Read the Psalmist talking about it.
Psalm 104:1–9 (CSB)
1My soul, bless the Lord! Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with majesty and splendor. 2He wraps himself in light as if it were a robe, spreading out the sky like a canopy, 3laying the beams of his palace on the waters above, making the clouds his chariot, walking on the wings of the wind, 4and making the winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. 5He established the earth on its foundations; it will never be shaken. 6You covered it with the deep as if it were a garment; the water stood above the mountains. 7At your rebuke the water fled; at the sound of your thunder they hurried away— 8mountains rose and valleys sank— to the place you established for them. 9You set a boundary they cannot cross; they will never cover the earth again.
Think about those last 4 verses. And imagine the violent things that happened in this storm; subterranean and subaqueous volcanic eruptions, mountains created, valleys cut, canyons carved, fossils created, sediment crushed.
I remember when Lisa and I took the boys to the “painted desert” in Arizona. They said “the only way this could have been created was with a “large regional flood” – WELL that’s close.
So, READ 8:1-14
God Remembered Noah… God caused a wind to pass over the earth… the ark came to rest in the 7th month on the 17th day, on the mountains of Ararat.
Go with me on a journey now. We are going to tread over and over the same theme and hopefully drive it home. Three sections for my thoughts today.
1. Truth To Communicate
Three important truths in these first four verses:
A. God Knows
God remembered Noah
Oh my, I barely got past this verse. God remembered Noah.
Ever felt like God has forgotten you? 120 years of building and preaching, then months in the ark, a floating casket, completely in the hands of God. They couldn’t sail, they couldn’t steer, the could only trust the hand of God.
God has not forgotten you. Stay here for a minute. As I read the story of God, and God building a people to love. God sees all things completed. 1000 years is like a day. It only seems long to us. He measures the universe with the span of his hands, and yet this world seems big to us, but for God it is but a dot on a finger.
As I read this story, again and again, this truth rings out, God Knows, God Remembers.
Abraham thought he missed his chance, but God took him outside the tent and said, “look at the stars, so shall your descendants be”.
Rachel was loved by Jacob, but she couldn’t have children, and wondered where was God
Hannah too couldn’t have a child, and sought the Lord, year after year.
Zechariah and Elizabeth, served the Lord, but their prayers for children seemed unanswered.
But God remembered Rachel in Genesis 30:22
He remembered Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:19.
In Luke 1:13, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and said, your prayer has been heard
Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely into prison, but God remembered Joseph
Israel was 400 years in Egypt, but in Exodus 2:24, God heard and God Remembered his covenant. Then he told Moses in Exodus 3:7-8, I have seen… heard… I know… and have come down to rescue
Psalm 136:23 says, he remembered us in our humiliation, his faithful love endures forever
Taken to Babylon in captivity, Israel had hung their harps in the trees,
Daniel was praying and fasting in captivity in Babylon, then after 70 years
Daniel 10:10–12 (CSB)
10Suddenly, a hand touched me and set me shaking on my hands and knees. 11He said to me, “Daniel, you are a man treasured by God. Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” After he said this to me, I stood trembling. 12“Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.
God remembered his promises and brought them home.
Oh what might have happened, But For God
But for the memory of God
But for the Knowledge of God
But for the Power of God
Remember in Genesis 6:18 he told Noah, I will establish my covenant with you. God had made a promise to SAVE Noah and his family. God never speaks hastily or frivolously, always clearly and truthfully.
The idea in Scripture of God “remembering” doesn’t mean he forgot, but that he paused in his working toward, but now he is working again directly on the promise, because…
B. God Works
Notice the working of God
God caused a wind to pass over the earth.
Oh God was at work all along.
In John 5:17 Jesus says, my Father is still working, and I am working also
God was working in the rain, working saving Noah in the Ark. God was always working, but now the storm has stopped, but that was nearly four months ago.
Then the WIND. Oh my, like the rushing of a mighty wind
Wind, or Breath. The presence of wind always brings the image of the Spirit of God. Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God was hovering over the earth as creation began. Now, I’m certain this is REAL Wind here, not a symbol. It’s like the wind that God caused to blow all night like parting the Red Sea for Moses and the Children of Israel to cross on Dry Land. And the same wind STOPPED, allowing the waters to cover their pursuing enemies.
The Holy Spirit came blowing into the Upper Room at Pentecost.
Yet even in every natural action, the Hand of God was at work. Colossians 1:15-17 says, he created all things… and he holds all things together. He is in the Gentle Zephyr and the Turbulent Tornado, or the Harrowing Hurricane.
The wind blew in the working of God and The Waters began to Recede
Then v2 says the sources of the water depths and the sky closed.
The same sources that God opened to allow the Flood, God closed to allow it to recede.
God is Working
Creation Scientists tell us they believe that before the floods there was a dense vapor in the atmosphere creating a perfect global climate. But when God opened the floodgates, everything changed.
The depths were opened, God was working. There would have been violent waters and waves. Magma would have rumbled in subaqueous eruptions, mountains created under the floodwaters. Imagine the violence in the working of God, and the ark at God’s mercy riding through it.
God knows, God Works, and
C. God Finishes
The Ark came to rest…
The storm, the surge, then God rested the ark. We already know that when God finished creation, he rested.
Remember the Ark is a type, a picture, of Christ. So, in the 7th month, on the 17th day, day, the Ark Rested. Why would God want us to know the exact day?
Well, the Civil Calendar 7th month, is the same as the Religious Calendar 2nd month for Israel. So, Henry Morris points out that this 17th Day is the same day that Jesus Rose from the Grave. The Ark Rested. Jesus Rose, salvation’s work complete. Let that sink in.
Then I read something else. The Ark came to rest on the Ararat range of Mountains. Now, there were mbountains on earth before the flood. But Ararat, if you visited there, you would find it is made of “pillow lava”. That means that this was lava formed in deep waters. Ararat also has sediment with Ocean Fossils. Do you see that? While the storm raged and the floodwaters surged, God was creating the place on which the ark would come to rest.
As the waters receded, the mountains rose and the Ark came to rest.
Whatever you face today, whatever the storm, God Knows, God Works, and God Finishes.
So, in the Truth, there are…
2. Conclusions to Make
God knows, God works, God finishes, what’s the Common Denominator?
It’s God, First, Last, Always
Oh, some of the greatest words in scripture are the first words in John 3:16,
He is BEFORE all things, he will be AFTER all things, and he is IN all things. He is Eternal, Self-Existent, Constant, the same yesterday, today, and forever. All things were made BY Him and FOR Him
God is the who, the what, the why, and the when. He is the Answer, the Reality to explain everything.
It’s God, and
B. God Knows
I know we’ve already said it, but I’m saying it again. God knew before, what was coming. He is never caught off guard. God never makes a surprised face. He never says, “I didn’t see that coming”.
God knows in the middle what is happening and how it will end, and then…
C. God Remembers
His silence doesn’t mean he has forgotten or changed his mind. The promises he made are as good as the day he gave them.
Jesus was on the cross dying for the sins of the world, yet he had time for the prayer of one single sinner by his side. There was a thief at his side, worthy of his own sentence. He had mocked Jesus earlier, but then, he looked at Jesus with eyes of faith in Luke 23:42 and said, Jesus, Remember Me when you come into your Kingdom. And Jesus replied, Today, you will be WITH ME in Paradise.
Why? Because he remembers and
D. God Responds
Jesus had said in John 3 that he didn’t came to condemn but to save.
He said he came to seek and save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10).
If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive. (1John1:9)
God Remembered Noah, God Works, God Finishes
Yes, God Remembered NOAH… because
E. God Knows My Name
God Remembered Noah. God Remembered Abraham, Rachel, Joseph, Israel, Hannah, Daniel, Zechariah, The Thief on the Cross, and so I know the Lord Remembers Jim Goforth, The Lord Remembers YOU.
“the Lord Remembers ME”
He Knows My Name
He knows My Every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call (author: Tommy Walker)
Psalm 91:1, 4-6, 14-15 (CSB)
1The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
4He will cover you with his feathers; you will take refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. 5You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day, 6the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon.
(And God says)
14Because he has his heart set on me, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows my name. 15When he calls out to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor.
Yes, he knows my name, and I know his name, so one other conclusion
F. God Has A Timetable
All those timetables, dates. Did you notice those details?
1) These are REAL Historical Events.
2) These were appointments on God’s Calendar. We have an ordered God. He may be eternal and outside of time, but God made time. He made the sun and caused the earth to spin, to orbit the sun. He made the evening and the morning. He created time and seasons. And so, God is always right on schedule, right on time.
Because of these truths and these conclusions, we have…
3. Confidence To Trust
A. God Is On The Throne
The flood itself said to those who were opposed to God that though, Every inclination of their heart was evil all the time, still God will not be mocked
Psalm 93:2–4 (CSB)
2Your throne has been established from the beginning; you are from eternity. 3The floods have lifted up, Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their pounding waves. 4Greater than the roar of a huge torrent— the mighty breakers of the sea— the Lord on high is majestic.
He is on the throne, and we’ve said he has a timetable, but it isn’t just a plan, but
B. God has Perfect Timing
It may not be MY time, or YOUR time, but it’s the RIGHT Time.
Romans 5:6 (CSB)
6For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes 8:6 (CSB)
6For every activity there is a right time and procedure, even though a person’s troubles are heavy on him.
Then it asks in v7-8 no one knows what will happen… no one has authority over the wind… no authority over the day of death
Well, No One But GOD, He has Authority of the Throne and the Knowledge of Perfect Timing.
If God is silent, he will speak at the right time. If God is doing something else, he has perfect timing.
The confidence is that
C. God has Not Forgotten
Psalm 25:7 (CSB)
7… in keeping with your faithful love, remember me because of your goodness, Lord.
Psalm 56 says that God knows, he takes note, he gathers our tears in a bottle, and written a book about me, about you. Oh, in God’s office, he has a little shelf for “nik-naks” and he has a bottle with your tears in it. He has a library and there is a book with your life concerns written down. He has not forgotten
So know this, in his silence, inactivity…
D. God is Not Lazy, He is BUSY Working On The Finish
He is Patient, he is right on time, making preparation for the finish.
Did you notice, the mountains of Ararat, where the Ark came to Rest, was created in the Flood. The surging storm, storm, formed the place of Rest for the ark.
Could it be that the storm that is surging around you right now, may be forming the place where the finish of God will come to rest? God knows what he is doing. God is Busy working on your behalf.
What you thought was Evil, God means for good.
So… While you Wait
E. Trust and Obey; Pray and Praise
Call out For Salvation
That thief on the cross, in the midst of the final and worst day of his life, He Called Out – “Remember Me” – You are my only hope for the “day after Tomorrow doesn’t Come”
Cry Out to Our Only Savior
Jeremiah 15:15 (CSB)
15You know, Lord; remember me and take note of me. Avenge me against my persecutors. In your patience, don’t take me away. Know that I suffer disgrace for your honor.
Pray For Strength To Serve One More Time
Samson had great highs, and an embarrassing Low. But then as he turned back to the Lord,
Judges 16:28 (CSB)
28He called out to the Lord, “Lord God, please remember me. Strengthen me, God, just once more…”
And his last act was greater in the War Against Evil than all he had done before
Trust God’s Timing
Job 14:13 he says …if only you would appoint a time for me and then remember me
Well, I know this, God does have an appointed time, and he will remember you, if you will call out to him
So, you can trust God, trust his timing, trust his working, trust his finish
Psalm 106:1–2,4 (CSB)
1Hallelujah! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever. 2Who can declare the Lord’s mighty acts or proclaim all the praise due him?
4Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people. Come to me with your salvation
I got a text from a friend today. It’s not unusual for us to text each other with a thought or a question as we study the word, or think through the issues we face. The question today was, “Joshua 6 – Jericho, shouts and the walls came down. Scripture just says they shouted. Shouted what? Shouts of praise?”
And I had one of those clarifying moments. Profound? Well you decide. The thought that went through my heart was,
“The Key is never the WHAT but the THAT!”
And I texted that then continued, “It’s about Faith and Obedience. Think about all the things in that incident alone. The marching didn’t do it. The shouting didn’t do it. The walking around the city did not do it. The walls didn’t start to erode or crumble days 1-6. They didn’t shake on revolutions 1-6 on day 7. No, it was THAT they believed and obeyed. And Joshua 6 says, ‘When they heard the rams horns and they troops gave a great shout, the walls collapsed.”
And then my thought continued, “and what was left standing when the dust settled? It was Rahab’s section of the wall, where she was in her ‘apartment’ with her family in obedience to the instruction given. Red cord hanging from her window. Was the red cord magic? No. Oh the red cord is a beautiful picture of salvation, but it was THAT she believed and obeyed.”
And then I texted one other example from that story, from the flip side. “When Achan stole a robe, a little silver, and a little gold; it wasn’t WHAT he took, it was THAT he didn’t trust God and obey. He took God’s part.”
Then the final observation, “It’s always about Faith and Obedience. It’s interesting how many times God did something UNIQUE in the circumstance. Whether Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David, Daniel, many manifestations of God’s power, but every time the action is unique. The uniqueness was that there wasn’t a ‘magic incantation’ or a ‘rain dance’, it was always about Faith and Obedience.
It’s not about the WHAT, its always about the THAT – Faith and Obedience.
Just a short thought about bearing the yoke, that is the struggles of life.
MOST TIMES: we are trying to “lay God at the foot of our problems.” That is we try and bring God to our struggles and ask him to fix them, explain, them, etc. But by doing that, we are interpreting God by the candlelight of our problems.
This Faulty and Dangerous!
I must lay my problems at the feet of Jesus! That’s what Philippians 4:4-9 is talking about. I must present my requests to him like an act of worship, trust, hope, and faith. Then I must interpret my problems based on the light of Jesus,
Are ALL things
It is God at the beginning, at the center, and at the end.
Then … it begins to make sense. And even if it doesn’t, God does. He is the ONE we must seek to understand, not the yoke I bear. Do not bow at the altar of your problems, but bow at the altar of Christ.
Rivers of waters … we have seen it this week, whether in person or on the media outlets
John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him (NIV84)
How do we survive the waters? How do we survive the toxic floods, the rivers and storms of life? It is not from being prepared, physically or even emotionally. It is not by building a wall around yourself. The way we survive is about what is within. In this life, how do we survive? Oh, we talk a lot about eating right, exercise, to elongate life and improve the quality of life. But ultimately, even the perfect specimens of health too will one day die. It has been appointed man once to die, and then the judgment. And that judgment will not rate the quality of our physical body. Their will be no after death assessment of body fat mass index or whatever. So, if we all are going to die, can I survive death? How do I survive death, because we ARE going to live on in eternity. So, how do we survive in life and in death?
Standing at the graveside of his friend, Lazarus, Jesus said, (John 11:25) “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies 26 whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believes this?”
Did you see the lynch pin? Did you see the key to unlock the door of life? If we are all appointed to die, and then the judgment, upon what is the judgment based? Jesus said, “He (she) who believes in me will live” Believes = pisteuo – to believe in, to have confidence in, to have faith in, to trust. Notice that it isn’t simply “be a person of faith”. No, my faith must be IN something that can do what I desire. I can believe that I can fly … but that won’t go very well. Or I can get IN a plane and actually fly. Jesus says “he who believes IN me will LIVE” = zao – to come back to life, to live again, to be resurrected. Praise the Lord … though we are dead, we can be resurrected. WHEN we die, we WILL be still living, if have have faith IN the only one who can guarantee us life … Jesus the Christ.
“But Pastor” Oh, I hear you out there, “But Pastor, sometimes I don’t get the pleasure, the relief of death to give me a passageway to real life. So, what do I do in the nasty now and now, while waiting for the sweet bye and bye?” Isaiah 43 (ESV) “But now, this is what the Lord says, he who created you … who formed you … FEAR NOT, for I have redeemed you …” (qal – to buy back) “… I have called you by name, you are mine…” Wow oh wow, have you ever felt like a forgotten dog at the pound? He HAS chosen US … called our name … and said “you are mine”. So, v2 “when (not if) you pass through the waters, I will be with you …” Oh, the waters will come in this life, but because we are chosen and have believed, we are NOT ALONE. “… and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you …” Sometimes we go through the rivers and sometimes they go through us, but we need not be overwhelmed = shataph – drown, overflow, gush out, flow out abundantly, to inundate.“… when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume you.” v3 “FOR, I am the Lord your God … your Savior” = mosia – to be spacious, ample, broad, to set free, to give victory. Oh Dear Fellow Traveler … when the flood waters rise, and the rivers crest and change direction, and ends up in our front yard, when it seems that it is all closing in, how, where, can we find freedom, a spacious place, an ample space to be free? The freedom comes from within.
So, John 7:38, and Isaiah 43:2 teach us something. IF the waters come around us, rise over us, they don’t have to gush out from us. As a matter of fact they CANNOT, if we place our faith IN Christ. Why? It is because something else occupies that space. The ESV says “whoever believes IN me, as the scriptures have said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
The toxic waters flooding around can’t overflow or gush out because I have a river of life flowing out of me. And by the way, the river flowing from within isn’t just a metaphor, no the river is Somebody. V39 says he was referring to The Holy Spirit, given to all who believe. Hallelujah, when I believe, Jesus, gives me access (Isaiah 12:3) to drink from the well of salvation, and places his Spirit within me and streams of living water flow within me.