Here’s the disclaimer for this post. This post will serve as an introduction to the next four weeks as well as explain and walk through our topic for this week. So it is a bit longer due to adding in an introduction. The next three in this series will be a bit shorter.
Last week in our small group we learned the four main elements of God’s, and by default our, story. Those were Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. In discovering this about the story of God as discovered in the Bible we also saw that both our own stories and the stories of others not only fit into the story of God, but they’re made up of the same four elements. These four elements will prove important as we continue to learn more about what it looks like to examine our own lives truthfully and as God uses each of us to disciple one another into more honest and growing relationships with Jesus.
Tonight we will dive into the first of the four great truths about God. We’ve learned the four elements of God’s story of this world and his creation. Now we take a break for four weeks and learn one truth about God per week that span through the entirety of the bigger story.
When we find ourselves acting in such a way that God would not be pleased we can very generally trace our actions back to a lack of full belief (at the time) in one or more of these four areas. So, let’s dive into these truths.
God is GREAT, GLORIOUS, GOOD, and GRACIOUS.
What does it mean to believe? As a part of our time together last week we saw and read scriptures that made it clear that what we believe is evidenced by how we live. In other words if I say I believe it’s really hot outside today then proceed to grab my heaviest parka just before heading out, do I really believe it’s going to be hot when I step outside? Of course not. The same should be applied to my life and my claim to believe the good news of Jesus.
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. – Romans 10:9-10
Belief happens in the heart. Don’t get head knowledge confused with belief from the heart. Knowing something is true and believing it from the depths of your heart are different. The Bible is clear that our actions and reactions are symptoms of the contents of our hearts. The words you speak, the way you react to bad news, and the person you are when Sunday gatherings are over…well, that’s who you really are, at least in that moment.
We are all have the sin of unbelief at times. These are moments when the things that we know are true of God aren’t being lived out in the way we are living, acting, or reacting. Our view of who God is or what he is like is forever and undeniably linked to the way we live every day.
If we all were asked if God is sovereign, we’d probably mostly agree. We know stories in scripture that display the greatness of God. We all could quote instances in scripture and in life when God has shown his control in a given situation. And yet this week you’ve probably all worried some. I’m convinced that God is in complete and utter control and that I am in his hands, yet I will likely be anxious about circumstance or situation at some point this coming week.
In those moments we have stopped believing that God is sovereign and great and in complete control. Behind every single one of our sins is a lie about God. Paul explained it by saying we’ve exchanged the truth about God for a lie. This means that every time you sin against God, one another; every time we spend time running from God or yelling at our kids or spouse; any moment we run to sexual sin or addiction or anything else that’s popping into your head right now it’s because we are, in that moment, believing a lie about God. Every one of your sins is a finger-wagging accusation to God that has grown from our outright choice to believe a lie about who God is. This means you’re not off the hook. You and I aren’t victims in our sin. Rather, we are completely responsible for every one.
God is always the most offended party when we sin.
Until we see God as the most offended party when we indulge in sin, we will never come to a healthy view of our sin. We will always fall back to simple behavior modification. We will work to manage our sin rather than abolishing it. For us to really hate our sin and kill it we have to know that it is God who is most offended by our sin. Without this we tend to try over and over to work harder. And, we know that we don’t earn our salvation through works.
If I fall into a moment of lust, then I’m not simply a victim to the undeniable beauty of the female species. Rather, I am looking into the eyes of God and saying, “You’re not enough! You don’t satisfy me!” Sin is a worship issue. It’s an issue of belief.
So, let’s examine the first truth. This week’s truth.
God is GREAT so we don’t have to be in control.
God is great. If you’re reading this online or learning about these truths in our small group you probably are already in a place that you wouldn’t argue with that. We all know of many portions of scripture that display the great power of our God. He is sovereign. In control. God spoke and all things were created. God brought 10 separate miraculous plagues to convince the god-king of Egypt to free his people. God brought those people out and completely parted the Red Sea in half and his people walked through it on dry land. God raised up kings and ended their reigns. God brought emperors to their knees. God God God God. He is the very definition of power.
Psalm 86:8-10 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. 9All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. 10For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
Psalm 145:3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
Psalm 115:3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Job 23:13 But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does.
God is Great so I don’t have to be in control. I believe this all whole-heartedly until something doesn’t go my way. When in life do you notice you feel you need to be in control? The line at the grocery store? Kids disobeying? What areas of your life to you try to control? When we do this there’s sort of an underlying belief that it’s just up to us.
What are some of the outcomes when we’re struggling with this? Some of these outcomes can be anger or rage, envy, fear, doubt, frustration, and many other things. How does that hurt others. How has that hurt you?
This is an area to continue to explore in your daily life. You’ll notice this week more since we’ve studied this that this is an issue in your life. The goofy thing is that our control is really only illusion anyway. You cannot even control if you’re breathing an hour from now. You have no power. You have no control. Jesus stopped a terrifying storm in its tracks by simply telling it to stop. You cannot make your kidneys function by your own will.
Watch yourself this week. Make it part of your ongoing prayers throughout every day. Look for those pitfalls that show you your unbelief. Watch your actions and reactions to conversation and circumstance. Then ask yourself, when you physically noticed that you weren’t in control did it lead to freak out and worry or awe and worship of your King?
Here’s the point and the bottom line. What is our greatest need? According to the story of God, what is our greatest problem? Humanity collectively and you and I as individuals have a problem that vastly outweighs any other we could even imagine. We are not right with God. Back to those four elements of the story. God created us to image, enjoy, worship, and love him. We fell short of the glory of God and of his plan for us in creation. Here it is. Are you ready? We; you and I, are completely and utterly unable to control our rightness with God. We are unable, with all out might, to make up for our sin and our rebellion against God has condemned us. Period.
But we trust and know and believe that God has taken it upon himself to display his power and mend that unbendable relationship between he and us. If we believe God is great enough to redeem us from our sin and restore all of the mess broken in the fall back to right relationship with him; back to what his original intent was, then we absolutely shouldn’t have trouble with this in any other area of life. Any other need or longing is incredibly trivial compared to our greatest need, which the greatest God has already fixed.