God is For Us

There are times, or, there will be times, where some may question whether or not God is there? Some may question, due to their circumstances, does God care? Others may find it hard to see the good of God and the gospel given their present condition. I can understand how easy it is to succumb to these questions one may have given the frailty and sinfulness that expresses itself and infringes itself on the human life.

The created order has been marred by sin, while the human race is enslaved to it. Given this fact, coupled with the intent of Satan, life is full of heartache, disappointment, unpleasant circumstances, hurt, disaster, loss, and tragedy. (Now I am not trying to be Debbie-downer this morning. Just stay with me.) While life is full of these events, circumstances, situations, and emotions that may leave one questioning; God has given us something more sure, more steady, more fruitful, more lively, more good, more positive, more heavenly, and more grounded. He has given us the gospel! With the gospel comes freedom, life, adoption, justification, sanctification, glorification, intercession (by the Spirt and Christ), and a future hope. Those things that come to us as a result of the gospel do not change.

Therefore, everyday of our life should be spent basking in the unchanging and unfading glory of the gospel and what Christ has done. While life has its ups and downs, its seasons, and its emotional roller coasters, the gospel brings truth, stability, foundation, and steadiness. No matter what our situation may be, whether good or bad, the gospel is always good. No matter what people do to you or how they disappoint you (even in the church), the gospel is still good and glorious. Even if you loose everything, the gospel is still good and sure.

My encouragement this morning is this: Allow your life to be gospel-centered. The gospel will be the unchanging constant in a changing world. Here is how Paul states it in his letter to the Romans:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ (the gospel)? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long: we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39).

When Your World Falls Apart

I preached on this subject and passage this past Sunday and plan to use this passage as the main text for a funeral I will do today. I believe there are vast amounts of people who have said or thought their world is falling apart. Their world could be a financial, vocational, relational, personal, spiritual, or ecclesiastical world. Their world could have been a home and personal memorabilia destroyed by a natural disaster. For some, a sudden loss of someone they loved dearly, whether that be a father, husband, wife, mother, brother, sister, aunt, or uncle or special friend.

When someone feels as though their world is falling apart, what they are saying is that there has been this instant shift from the good to the bad. The good they had worked for invested in, spent time with, enjoyed, and loved is in a moment, gone. This is the picture in Genesis 2 and 3. The truth is, however, God created, built, invested in, and enjoyed his perfect creation. He created man in his own image to glorify him through being his image bearers to the created order. Adam and Eve, the first couple, enjoyed perfect fellowship with their Creator as well as with one another. There was shalom over the whole earth. However, in a single moment all that was lost. Rebellion entered into the perfect created order when Eve and Adam cognitively choose to disobey God’s word and eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. At that moment their world fell apart.

Their world of perfection, harmony, peace, love, unity, and fellowship ended. They instantaneously realized their were naked. Rather than seeking God to fix this feeling, this change of reality, they sought to fix it themselves. When they sensed God’s presence they played a little game called Hide and Go Seek with God. Their world was now one of fear, confusion, shame, guilt, embarrassment, and chaos. Also we learn their world became one of blame. When God asked them, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” They immediately began to blame the next person and even God. We learn a valuable lesson on how man usually reacts to their world falling apart. Many times man, when he experiences his world falling apart, tries to fix it, blame others, tries to ignore what’s going on, retreats, and even run away from God.

But, it is also in these times, man longs for the world to be restored, corrected, and reconciled. The good news, the gospel, is that God promises to reconcile the world to himself, to restore the world to a pre-fall state, and consummate his cosmic divine kingdom. He promises this in Genesis 3:15, and in a temporary foreshadowing way adequately clothes Adam and Eve’s nakedness by using animal skin.

Let us remember today, that if we believe, perceive, or feel that our world is falling apart in someway, that the Lord one day will completely restore and redeem this world and man (who has trusted in Christ) to himself. Also, make the gospel of Jesus Christ the anchor of your soul – as you navigate through those times when the destructive forces of life and of a falling world impact you. Remember: God will bring your through, God will seek you, God will clothe you, God will never leave you nor forsake you, and that God loves you.

It’s All About ‘How’ and ‘Why’ You Ask

1 Samuel 8

This is the passage where Israel approaches Samuel and asks for a king. Asking for a king was not wrong, in and of itself, but how and why they asked for a king was. We must always understand our asking (for whatever it may be) still must be Christ-centered, God-centered, and Gospel-centered not self-centered, situational-centered, and sin-centered. The how and why of Israel’s asking for a king was anything other than Christ, God, and Gospel-centered.

First they observed the sons of Samuel and how they lived contrary to the ways of a priest. Samuel’s sons, Joel and Abijah, were men who took bribes and perverted justice. Second, having noticed Samuel’s replacements were no good and then seeing that Samuel was rising up in age, the elders of Israel approached Samuel and said, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king…” I guess you can say this is pretty cut and dry. “Hey old man, you got some pretty crappy sons who are no good, we need to replace both you and them.” How sweet!

Thus far, Israel is reactionary against the sons, against Samuel’s age, and against the position of priest. They asked for a king to judge them, rather than a priest to judge them. Not only did they request a king, if that was not hurtful to Samuel, but they desired a king so that they could be “like all the nations.” Fourth, rather than desiring to be more godly, they wanted to be like all the pagan nations. Fifth, Israel demanded a king. Who cares about authority or honoring positions, Israel took it upon themselves to demand a king.

The ‘how’ and ‘why’ they ask for a king is not in the right spirit, nor in the right direction. Like I alluded to earlier, it is not that asking for a king was wrong, but the ‘how’ and ‘why’ they ask were. God had promised to Abraham that kings would come from his loins. So, having a king seems like it was in the deck of cards early on. However, there was probably a better way to arrive at inaugurating a king. Think about this: our asking may be a right request to be making, but we may be requesting it in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. There is nothing God glorifying about this way of asking, just as it was not glorifying to God for Israel to ask for a king in the manner they did. Samuel was displeased and God was rejected through their request.

In our asking and desiring, we must check them at the door of our heart to make sure that we are not reacting negatively in our situations and circumstances. We also must check our motives for the ‘why’ of our asking.

Are the request(s) we are making, like Israel’s request, selfish, situational, and/or sinful? As believers who are loved by and who love the King of Kings, our prayers and request must be God-Centered, Christ-Centered, Gospel-Centered, and Missional Centered.