November 01, 2011

"What We Really Believe About God" series (God vs. Hard Knocks)

About 4000 years ago, a man in the arid regions of the modern day middle east claimed to have a vision from God telling him that he would change the world. This man left his family and friends and through military conquest and treacherous scheming, became the most feared and respected man throughout the Arab world at that time. He continued to attain vast wealth, land, and respect - and upon his death, his family and household had become a great people.
This people continued to grow in number. However; through much internal greed, deception, and fighting, this once great people crumbled and were dominated by enemies who once feared their political and military strength. Once conquered, this group of people became known as outcasts and slaves.
After several centuries, a leader arose among the people who freed them from their bondage in captivity and led them to become a great people once again. Their military strength in their day was unmatched and the amount of land they conquered was an unheard of accomplishment that cannot be compared to in ancient warfare. This great people became a nation.
Once again however, upon the coattails of great success, came the destructive nature off pride and false-security. This twice great dynasty would spend the rest of its existence, right up until the modern day, rising and falling as one of the greatest military powers in the world in direct proportion to their pride and security as a people.
No other nation on the face of the planet has had such a terrible and unstable history. It has accomplished some of the greatest achievements in history as well as the most grievous disasters. It has seen the dawn as the ruling power of the world, and it has seen the setting of the sun as the most wretched and despised people that have ever lived. To this day, this people are the most feared and most hated group of humanity that has ever lived. No other nation has seen as much adversity or death. Yet this nation is the most blessed and hope filled nation in the world today.

Israel.

Why Do I say they are the most blessed and hope-filled nation today?
Answer: Certainly not because of external appearances or commitments to Christ (most of them still reject Christ). I say it because of Scriptures testimony of them. Israel is still the chosen people of God and the promised future of Israel in scripture is something that every Christian hopes and longs for.

God Vs. Hard Knocks: A Lesson for Us

Most of us would say that our faith really does believe that God can overcome any circumstance. But many people act as though God only overcomes circumstances if we are good enough or if somehow, our lives are worth the effort of God to overcome all the depravity in our lives. It's like the old deceptive cliche, "God helps those who help themselves!". Um, that's not biblical. God helps those who can't help themselves - and that's all of us. That's what the Bible says.
Look at Romans 3:9-20.

9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10As it is written:
"There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one."
13"Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit."
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."
14"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
15"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16ruin and misery mark their ways,
17and the way of peace they do not know."
18"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

I want to point out two things today:
1. The story of the Bible is that God is supremely interested in overcoming all circumstances no matter how impossible, for His glory.
2. This truth has nothing to do with anything we do or are, and everything to do with Him and who He is.

1. The story of the Bible is that God is supremely interested in overcoming all circumstances no matter how impossible, for His glory.

Look at the verses in that passage. What do you notice about the people God is talking about? First of all, it includes all of us. There is no one who is good. That takes care of disqualifying anyone who thinks they have to be good enough or come from somewhere good enough, or help themselves enough first. The Bible says that just doesn't happen enough for God's standards anyway, so it doesn't matter.
Second, it tells us that God takes care of us anyway. That is why it says in Romans 5:8 that "While we were still sinners Christ died for us." That's really powerful.
God didn't wait for us to get good enough.

If you are reading this and you think that God isn't interested in your problems or your circumstances, let me tell you that you couldn't be more wrong. If you are here and you think that it's unrealistic to expect God to overcome the life circumstances of someone else in order to glorify Himself in their life, you couldn't be more wrong (unless you are in the first group of people who also think He doesn't care, then you're doubly wrong!). The reason we looked at this Scripture was to show you that God doesn't care about things like life circumstances as to whether He will do something or not. To Him, that is a small thing. You could be the worst person in the world, in the worst place in the world, with the worst friends, family, and pets in the world. You could come from the worst poverty in the world with generations of the worst cheats and crooks in the world, and God can still overcome those circumstances. The Bible shows us He has - in the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samson, Esther, David, Mary Magdalene, Peter, the man with Legion, Paul, and, according to this scripture reading, everyone else whom claims the name of Christ.


2. This truth has nothing to do with anything we do or are, and everything to do with Him and who He is.

The great thing about the story of our lives is that it really has nothing to do with us. If you are worried that God wouldn't ever do anything with you, or you are afraid that He would never do anything in the life of someone else you love, you're forgetting one very important thing. God doesn't look at human resumes for making decisions. He doesn't pick the brightest and the best simply because they are the brightest and the best. He typically picks the worst and/or the weakest, because when these undergo a transformation, people most readily see the work of God and give glory to Him. It's harder for people to do that with people that seem to be good enough already from a human perspective.
God is mainly concerned with others knowing His sovereignty and glory. This means we shouldn't look at impossible situations in life and be discouraged; we should look at them and have great expectation! Look at the people that Paul is talking about in the Romans 3 passage! Can you think of a more impossible situation than people like that? Yet here we all are. We are the evidence that impossible situations are no match for God.

We started with the illustration of Israel. And we left out the most important part of that story on purpose. That part was God. Man wasn't responsible for the rise of Israel to greatness. God was. And yet throughout history, despite God's continued affection and intercession for Israel at all costs, and in the most impossible situations, Israel still turns its back on Christ. Can you get more impossible than that? A whole nation of people that are at the center of God's plan for all of humanity, who have witnessed the most amazing things any human will ever see, and yet they continue to turn away?
The Bible tells us that God will overcome all this though. He will work in the most impossible situations.
I want to encourage you to build a faith that trusts in God over any circumstance. If this speaks to you, I encourage to pray and simply ask Him, as the religious leader asked Jesus, "Lord increase my faith." I want to live life victoriously for Your glory.
With you for His glory

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