Why God?

Asking “Why God?” doesn’t make me a bad Christian. It made me a kid, and He’s my Dad.

Our God, the Creator of all, Sovereign, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Almighty God – the I AM is our Father; Abba.

Readings: Romans 8:18-28 ~ John 11:17-37
My notes from today’s sermon:

Prayers – the empty chair story Pastor recounted is about talking to Jesus who is present with us because He promised He would.

O Lord, God of my salvation,
    I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you;
    incline your ear to my cry!

For my soul is full of troubles,
    and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am a man who has no strength,
like one set loose among the dead,
    like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
    for they are cut off from your hand.
You have put me in the depths of the pit,
    in the regions dark and deep.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
    and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

You have caused my companions to shun me;
    you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
    my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O Lord;
    I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
    Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
    or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
    or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But I, O Lord, cry to you;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
    Why do you hide your face from me?
15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
    I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
    your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17 They surround me like a flood all day long;
    they close in on me together.
18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
    my companions have become darkness.

Psalm 88

This song doesn’t turn to praise like the other Psalms. We’re just left with darkness. Sometimes that’s the Christian life.

There are times when suffering and evil isn’t so much a problem that can be solved, but a mystery that needs to be endured.

Pastor Ben Spaulding

Jesus knows and understands this darkness.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 27:46 (ESV)

Jesus did not receive an answer.

We were buried into death with Christ and resurrected to life with him too!

On the day of the resurrection, pain and suffering become untrue – it still happened, but it no longer has power over us.

Are we as free as we think we are?

Yes and no.

First, Christian freedom and American freedom are different things. American freedom is a liberty from oppressive government, whereas Christian freedom is freedom from sin. Christian freedom is more than that though!

A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all; subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all; subject to all.

Martin Luther

A Christian is free from all and servant to all. Free from subjection and bound by duty. Both are vital aspects of Christian freedom even though they may seem paradoxical.

We are tempted to (and often tend to) focus on what we’re free from and lose sight of what we’re freed for.

To be blunt: We all have a master – is it sin, which leads to death? or is it Jesus, which leads to freedom and eternal life?

3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 6We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For one who has died has been set free from sin. 17But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:3, 6-7, 17-18 (ESV)

Pastor Ben tells about a fishing trip and freeing the fish from being trapped in the water by throwing it on the land.
Be free!

We are slaves to righteousness like a fish is a slave to water. That is where our life and freedom are found!

Jesus’ freedom was faithfulness to His Father and he remained free despite being captured, tortured, and crucified.

It is finished.

John 19:30

In Christ, we are free.

Joy of Returning

You want to see and feel the joy of returning? Check out this video of military personnel returning home to their loved ones.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
    the majesty of our God.

Isaiah 35:1-2 (ESV)

Isaiah is encouraging God’s people for Jesus’ return – the ultimate joy of returning.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;

Isaiah 35:5-6 (ESV)

There are signs of what are yet to come and they are pointing to the salvation that Jesus is bringing to the world.

It is beyond our imagination or the words to describe, but Isaiah gives us a glimpse.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 35:10 (ESV)

It’s not just God returning, but also the ransomed of the Lord – us! The closest picture we have of this is the story of the prodigal son.

Joy is obtained, not inherent or natural. It’s obtained from God and reflects God’s joy over us.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)

God’s joy is now. We don’t have to wait! Our duty (or calling) doesn’t steal our joy but can add to it because with God all things are possible.

MLC Sermon 12/13/2020