Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Year's Dare

Isaiah 55:6 – 11

New Year’s Dare

“I resolve to let God be right, about everything.”


I.         The problem:


            A.        We like to be right. We resist the possibility we might not be right!


                        1.         How often to you admit to being wrong? (Seldom...) When do you admit to being wrong? (When forced with unpleasant consequences...)


                        2.         How often do you just give up the disagreement because the other person is resisting/being stubborn?


            B.        How many of us have the life skills and grace to ADMIT we are not right and ACCEPT responsibility?


                        1.         As children we are “forced” to comply with authority and those who hold power over us.


                        2.         We are trained to resist... “Passive-Aggressive”


II.       Reality [vv 8 – 9]


            A.        God is not like us.


                        1.         God does not think like us or behave like us.


                        2.         God’s thoughts and ways are “light years” ahead of ours.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.” [1 Corinthians 1:25]

Our limited mind gets it backwards.

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” [1 Corinthians 2:14]

Here’s the reality:

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness [20] and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” [1 Corinthians 3:19 – 20]

This is the consequence of our thinking: We make our own “god.”

“Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” [Romans 1:22 – 23]

[Even Christians make their own version of “god” when we make God think and behave like us, or how we want God to think and behave.]


            B.        Hard reality, but true:


                        1.         The difference between God and humanity is GREATER than the difference between humanity and any animal.


                        2.         In other words,


                                    a.         What God says is right, true, and correct; even/especially if we don’t understand it.


                                    b.         What God does is righteous, holy, and loving; even/especially if we don’t like it.


III.      Objection!

Why do BAD things happen to good/innocent people?


            A.        There are five possible ways for bad things to happen:


                        1.         Natural disaster (tsunami).


                        2.         Accident (car accident).


                        3.         Self-inflicted (smoking/second hand smoke).


                        4.         Momentary lapse/insanity (“Santa slayings”).


                        5.         Pre-meditated/Planned evil. (September 11)


            B.        Possible views:


                        1.         The “deist” view thinks God set things in motion but is not personally involved.


                                    a.         Argument: There are spiritual laws/principles that cannot be violated. (Like the physical laws.)


                                    b.         Answer: yes but they can be come a “White Tiger.”

(Ill.) In India there was a “fakar” who went from town to town “creating” gold in boiling pot of mixed things. Someone would ask him how he did it... for a big price he would give them the “formula” and say, “it only works if, when you do this and say these words, you do NOT think of a white tiger.” The “formula” never worked. He would be arrested and tried but never convicted because in his defense he would ask... “did you think of a white tiger?”

A “White Tiger” is a condition to be met that automatically nullifies the possibility.

Example of a “White Tiger:” A radio evangelist once announced: “If you believe, God will put the keys to a new Cadillac into the hands of an angel and send those keys to you right away. But if you doubt for an instant, those keys are gone.”


                        2.         The “determinist” believes God pre-determined every action and behavior in the universe.

“If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled. Perhaps that one maverick molecule will lay waste all the grand and glorious plans that God has made and promised to us... our maverick molecule could change the course of all redemptive history. Maybe that one molecule will be the thing that prevents Christ from coming.” [R. C. Sproul “Chosen by God” pp. 26 – 27]

[Response: This seems to be a very weak concept of God and an attempt to explain the chaos caused by sin... If God were sovereign: Then maverick molecules, sinful people, or even defiant armies would NOT prevent anything God wants to accomplish, any time God wants to accomplish it. “Now He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else – not only in this world but also in the world to come.” (Ephesians 1:21)]


                                    a.         Some will suggest it this is accurate then God is the source of all evil if God predetermined or even allowed evil/bad.


                                    b.         Some will suggest that if God is not capable of stopping evil/bad then God is weak, and not God.


                        3.         A Biblical model.


                                    a.         God works with humans on four different levels.


                                                1.)       Eternal destiny (salvation/grace).

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.” [Ephesians 1:7 NLT]


                                                2.)       “Big Picture” history (Messiah, Revelation).

“And this is the plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ – everything in heaven and on earth.” [Ephesians 1:10 NLT]


                                                3.)       Groups (nations, churches)

“God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirt in, whom He promised long ago. [Ephesians 1:12 – 13 NLT]


                                                4.)       Individuals.

“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” [Ephesians 2:8 – 9 NLT]


                                    b.         There is a hierarchy.


                                                1.)       An individual will suffer or benefit what the group suffers or benefits. [see Matthew 5:45b] We do not completely control our own destiny.


                                                2.)       The group fits into the ultimate plan, purpose, and flow of history. The group does not necessarily control its own destiny.


                                                3.)       The individual has “free will” to react and interact with circumstances, life, others, and God. (You cannot control your circumstances but you control your reactions.)

Ravi Zacharius: “sanctity of free will” What we struggle with is that the sanctify of free will appears to be godless chaos from our limited perspective.


IV.      Back to reality


            A.        God does not abandon us to the chaos of sin, even if we do not understand God or the chaos.


                        1.         God has given us the Bible [vv 10 – 11]


                                    a.         The Bible has a PURPOSE.


                                    b.         The Bible reveals God’s PLAN.


                        2.         God has given us an invitation:


                                    a.         [v 6] Seek and call on God. This will require energy and time.


                                    b.         [v 7] Forsake wicked ways and unrighteous thoughts. This will require discipline.


                                    c.         [v 8] Turn to God. This will require humility.


            B.        What skills are we going to need? [“Trust”]


                        1.         We are going to have learn “historical remembering” (v emotional remembering).

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. [4] Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” [Psalm 51:3 – 4]


                                    a.         When we take things personally/emotionally we resist.

“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. [4] For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. [Psalm 32:3 – 4]

                                    b.         When we step outside our emotional resistance we have a chance to hear God.

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” [Psalm 32:5]


                        2.         We will have to be courageous.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. [24] See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” [Psalm 139:23 – 24]


                                    a.         Do what is right, even when everyone around you is not...


                                    b.         Do what is right, even if we gravitate toward what is comfortable.


                        3.         Keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” [Galatians 5:25]


                                    a.         To do this, we will have to hear and listen (obey)


                                    b.         To do this, we will have to be consistent reading the Bible.

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