We are in the second week of our series “Here We Stand” our look at truth that gives us the courage to face tomorrow. Last week Dave kicked off this series by talking about how the truth of the resurrection of Jesus is solid ground: it is a place where we can plant our feet! Over the next few weeks we will be looking at other rock solid truths: truth about Jesus; truth about the Bible; truth about God’s kingdom. This week we are looking at truth about God… truth that can sustain us no matter what life may bring our way. We live in a culture that believes there is a God; all sorts of polls show that almost 90% of Americans believe in God. But what people believe to be true about God is all over the map. Some believe that God is just the spirit that unites us as human beings. Some believe God is a kindly spirit trying to get everyone to love one another just the way we are. Others believe that God is a powerful being who made the world but then walked away and left us on our own. Still others believe that God is a stern old man looking down from the sky in hopes of catching us doing something wrong so he can punish us. Then there are those that believe that God is the great organizer of every single detail in everyone’s life. And these notions just scratch the surface of what people believe is true about God. And with so many conflicting ideas about God floating around it can be difficult to say, ‘this is the truth about God’ and that is especially true when someone really needs solid answers. Plus, there are some people who have specific beliefs about God who will say unimaginable things to others during difficult times. Let me give you some examples from my experience as a pastor. What do you say to a father and mother whose young child has just been killed by a drunk driver when they ask, “Where was God?” What do you say that you know is true and brings comfort in a time like that? Well, what you don’t say, as someone said to this couple, “God must have needed another angel.” What kind of a God is that? Or what do you say to a young woman who tells you about the horrific abuse she suffered when she was a little girl when she asks “Why didn’t God protect me?” What do you say that you know is true and comforting? What you don’t say, as someone said to her, “God allowed this to happen to you because he needed someone to be able to help others.” What kind of a God does that? What do you say to a young mother whose husband suddenly dies from a mysterious illness and leaves her alone to raise their infant child when she asks, “Where was God? How could he have let this happen?” Again, what can you say that is both true and comforting? What isn’t comforting is saying as some said to her, “This was God’s plan and you need to thank God that he took your husband.” Still others said, “You need to look at your life and see what unconfessed sin would have caused God to punish you in this way.” What kind of a God is that? And I am confident that almost everyone here has had a time in life, or maybe is going through a time right now, that begs questions like, “Where is God? Why doesn’t he help me?” and you are wondering, “What is really true about God?” You’re looking for answers that you can be confident are true. You’re looking for some solid ground of truth to help you face tomorrow. We know that often in times like this people either struggle with their faith or lose it all together. We understand the struggle; we don’t want you to lose faith. That is the ‘why’ behind this series “Here we stand.” We are hoping to give you solid ground that gets you through the struggle and gives you the courage to face tomorrow.
Now, I know that that the subject of the truth about God and all of the questions it raises cannot be covered in the few minutes we have today. But, what we felt was important was to confidently state some big truths about God that we have found to be a fortress in difficult times. Let’s get right to it! Here is a statement about God that we believe is helpful.“We believe there is only one true God who is eternal, all knowing, all powerful, just and loving. We believe that God purposefully created the world and is personally engaged in the lives of human beings.”Now, some of you may be thinking, “That’s it! What’s so special about that? It sounds pretty standard!” I know that this statement isn’t highly nuanced but stick with me… but first, I need to start by saying that as I’ve studied the Bible I’ve found that almost every page says in some way what David said boldly in Psalm 14:1: only a fool would say, “There is no God.” I just wanted to get it out there that we agree with David. And something else that you’ll find on almost every page in the Bible: you’ll find God trying to tell us about himself. I will be talking about the truth of the Bible in one of the weeks to come but here is a statement about the Bible you can take to the bank: The Bible is God’s primary way of telling us about himself. Yes, God tells us about himself through nature to some degree. And yes, God tells us about himself through other people and our experiences. I know this. But, the Bible is God’s primary means of revealing the truth about himself to us. Without the Bible we wouldn’t have a consistent message about who God is and what is important to him. I cannot over emphasize this truth. And one of the first things the Bible says about God and it says it over and over and over is that God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end. This is hard for me to comprehend. When I try thinking about God having no beginning my brain freezes. And being eternal also means that there will never be a time when God doesn’t exist; eternal means forever in both directions. And here is what you can count on. No matter what anyone says or how it may seem to you in the moment, God isn’t going anywhere. God is eternally present. He will always be here for you. That truth is helpful and it’s comforting. You can stand on this: God is always present!
Something else you can stand on: God is all-knowing. Again, the Bible shows us over and over that God knows all that is done and said. I can’t get my mind around how he knows everything either, but you cannot read the Bible and not come to the conclusion that God is aware of the condition of the world, aware of the circumstances of our lives and even knows the thoughts of our hearts and minds. There are tons of passages of Scripture that speak to God knowing what is going on everywhere. Now, that scares me at some level but, this is something you can stand on: nothing happening in your life is unknown to God: Nothing! And nothing that is silently welling up in your heart is unknown to him either. You can stand on this: God knows you inside and out: experiences, hopes, desires, dreams, angers, fears. God knows you. This has been helpful truth for me in moments when I’ve felt alone and misunderstood. Again, God is present and he knows you.
God is also all- powerful. Simply put, there is nothing that God cannot do. Now, we have to be careful here. Truth is that God’s power is limited by his character. In other words, God cannot do things that are evil. But you can stand solidly on this: God’s power over all things is not limited in any way. Nothing can get the better of him. There are people who will scoff at this but don’t worry about them. The Bible often speaks of God doing great things by the power of his little finger… in other words, with no real effort. You can count on this: when Revelations 19:1 says “all glory and power belongs to our God” it means exactly what it says. God owns all power. I have often had times when things looked impossible and yet, I’ve found that God can do anything. You can stand on this truth from Ephesians 3: God can do infinitely more than you could ever ask or imagine. Take heart in this: God is all-powerful.
Something else that the Bible tells us over and over is that God is just. God not only always does the right thing, but he is also always working to see that his world is moving toward what is right. I know that it doesn’t seem like the world is moving toward what is right. But remember, God has all of the time in the universe. And since He knows what is going on and he can do anything… you can count on this: he will set things right! Solid ground: God is just. He tells us many times that all things related to judgment and justice are in his powerful hands. Earlier I quoted a verse from Revelation 19 about God having all power. Well, take a look at that whole passage sometime and you see that it also says God will take care of business: it says God will ‘avenge his servants.’ And you and I can stand firm on this: God is just and he WILL set things right. Now, this is not a call to complacency. We are called to be God’s ministers of justice in his kingdom. But, in times when justice seems far away, being able to stand on the solid ground of God being just makes it possible to face tomorrow.
We also believe that God is loving. Now, when we say this we don’t mean that God accepts us just the way we are no matter what… and we don’t mean that God just wants us to be happy. No, saying God is loving means that God cares about us more than we can imagine and that his love for us will express itself in ways that are beyond our ability to grasp. Here is the key: God’s love centers on what he knows we can be if we follow him. He knows that we are broken. That is why he sent Jesus. He loves us enough to not allow us to stay broken. You can count on this: you are precious to God. You are his masterpiece. Get this truth down into your soul. He loves you!
We also believe with all of our hearts that God purposefully created the world. People of faith differ over the specifics of how God went about creating the world but if there is one thing that is clear in the Bible it is that God had a purpose in creating all that exists and that purpose was to be personally engaged in our lives. Here is something you can stand on: The entire creation was purposed to be the very good place where you and I could have the best possible face-to-face relationship with God and the best possible relationship with one another. Now we all know that the world is not that place right now due to the entrance of sin into the world. As I’ve said already, the world is a broken place: Because of sin and the ongoing disobedience of mankind against God, people are alienated from God and we are distant from one another; our bodies, minds and spirits need healing; injustice of all kinds abounds in the world. Plus, the physical creation itself is in deterioration. We will talk in depth about this in the weeks to come but for now, you can stand on this: God’s purpose in creating this world was for you and me to be with Him. We all suffer under the curse of our fallen world, but God still wants to have the best possible relationship with you now even in this broken world. This is truth you can stand on!
Now, I know that some of you are probably thinking, “Okay, I’ve heard all of this before, Tim. You’re not saying much that hasn’t been said.” I know that what I’ve said isn’t new BUT it’s true! And sometimes it’s good just to be reminded about the facts. So, here, again, are the facts:God is here to stay, he always has been and he always will be. He knows about your life, what is happening to you, what you are doing and thinking and feeling and he is able to anything. What he wants to see in his world is justice, fairness and peace and he is working in ways to eventually see that these things are realized both in his world and in your life. And to top it off, his love for you is without measure.Bottom line: We serve a God who is for us and is with us and loves us! This is the solid ground that can give us the courage to face tomorrow.
And we’re not the first people to feel this way. Others have stood on this solid ground as well. Let’s look for just a minute at Psalm 24. Page ??? I could have chosen any number of passages but this one in particular stood out to me. Listen to what King David, a man who experienced just about every good and bad thing that could happen to a person, said in this psalm. “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.(David recognized that everything and everyone was purposed by God… and that God has great power)Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?(In other words, who could possibly stand in the presence of this powerful God? And he tells us.)He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.(David says, “The person who lives his life standing in the truth about God can stand with God)He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.(David says this person will be shown God’s favor and see God’s justice)Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.(And then David essentially says, “Let’s let God into our lives and let’s worship him!”)Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty— he is the King of glory.David understood the truth about God. That God is eternal and powerful and just and that he made the world and everyone in it for a purpose. Take some time to read David’s life story some day and you’ll see this him standing on the truth about God everywhere! And this truth gave David the courage to face tomorrow.
The question I’m confident in many of your minds is how does knowing these things help in difficult times like the times I talked about earlier? Well, let’s get practical. First, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how alone you may feel you can stand on this:God knows exactly what is going on in your life, he knows how you feel and he will bring his justice and love into your life.That is bedrock! When that young couple’s child was killed by a drunk driver… there wasn’t much to say. It never does any good to try and make sense of something like that and believe me God did not need more angels. But I could say something like this with confidence to them and I’m saying it to you if you are going through the deep waters of unspeakable sorrow: I am confident that God knows all about what has happened and His heart is broken that you are experiencing such pain. You can be confident that he hasn’t abandoned you and he will not abandon you. He created the world to be with you. You can stand on God’s eternal presence with you and his deep love for you. And you can count on it that he will use his power in some way to bring his justice and love into your situation. This is true! This couple said just knowing this was true and that God hadn’t done this to them for some unimaginable reason gave them the strength to face tomorrow.
Secondly, no matter what may be happening we can stand on this fact:God is just and loving and sonothing evil or cruel or sinful can come from God’s hand.Terrible things do happen to good people. But God does not create that evil. Sometimes terrible circumstances come from evil decisions by evil people; sometimes terrible circumstances come because of stupidity; sometimes they come simply due to the broken state of the world; I could talk all day about good people suffering terribly from diseases that simply appeared. But God is always just and loving. He did not take my friend’s husband’s life to make some theological point or to get her attention. But I can say this with confidence to her and I would say it to you if you are going through the deep waters of sorrow and confusion. God knows all about what has happened and His heart is broken that you are experiencing such pain. You can be confident that he hasn’t abandoned you and he will not abandon you. He created the world to be with you. You can stand on God’s eternal presence with you and his deep love for you. And you can count on it that God will use his power in some way to bring his justice and love for you into your situation. This is bedrock; you can stand on this. My friend said knowing that God is never evil or cruel made it possible for her to trust God… knowing that God was for her and not against her made it possible to face tomorrow.
Thirdly,God is always working to show you his love for you.There were very few words of comfort for the young woman who had suffered so much abuse. But, I could say this with confidence to her and I would say it to you if you are going through the deep waters of painful memories. God knows all about what has happened to you and his heart is far more broken by what has happened to you than anyone’s could ever be. And you can be confident that he hasn’t abandoned you and he will not abandon you. He created the world to be with you. You can stand on God’s eternal presence with you, his deep sorrow for what you are suffering and you can count on it that he will use his power in some way to bring his justice and his love for you into your situation. Again, I believe this is bedrock. God is just and loving… he does not cause terrible things to happen so we can at some later time comfort others. And this young woman said it was comforting to know that God hadn’t abandoned her because of what had happened to her. Evil people make evil decisions that often hurt the innocent. But knowing that she is precious to God and that he was bringing his love into her life, gave her the strength to face tomorrow.
I cannot thing of a more difficult subject than speaking for God in this way. And yet God has given us his word and in God’s word he has told us some things that are solid ground. And so I will say this with as much confidence as I can.There is only one true God and our God is eternal, all knowing, all powerful, just and loving. And our God purposefully created the world to be with you and he is personally engaged in your life.”You can plant your feet on this solid ground… and knowing that all of this is true should give you the strength to face tomorrow.