The Glory of God’s Love

The “John 3:16” of the Old Testament comes in a repeated credo that the LORD gives concerning His character and it first shows up in Exodus 34:6-7. This wonderful passage states this:The Lord passed before Moses and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”

This powerful assertion by God about His character is repeated in Nehemiah 9:17-19, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 111:4, Joel 2:12-13, and Jonah 4:2.  As we think about our sovereign God, let us explore what these descriptions mean.

The LORD is “merciful”—this really means a mother’s love toward her nursing baby. It conveys this idea of mercy for the helpless. It can also mean the love of a father. So in essence, this means that God is a loving, gracious parent who looks with mercy upon us as helpless and hopeless sinners. God is tenderhearted toward us. He relates to us as a Father, not a judge if we are in Christ.

The LORD is “gracious”—the imagery of this word means, “to bend or incline or come down”. It carries that idea that a superior or sovereign is bending down to a helpless rebel who in no way deserves love or mercy. We are in debt to God because of our sin and are hopeless without His intervention in our lives. As a holy God, He doesn’t owe us anything except for punishment due our sin, but He acts liberally and graciously toward us knowing all along we can never pay Him back. He simply rescues and saves us through Jesus because He loves us.

The LORD is “slow to anger”—literally it means that God is longsuffering or patient in snorting his nose in anger. God does not execute immediate justice or discipline at times, but is patient with our disobedience. He has a high threshold of tolerance for our stubbornness. Praise the Lord that He is patient with us through Christ!

The LORD is abounding in “steadfast love”—this is probably the most important word in this passage. The word is “hesed” in Hebrews and it is God’s tenacious fidelity and resolve to maintain a relationship with sinful people. It means that God obligates and swears upon Himself that He will be true to His covenant and promise to love His people whom He has chosen. He doesn’t break His promises toward us in Christ, but maintains this loyal, powerful, gripping love upon us in where He will never leave nor forsake us.

The LORD abounds in “faithfulness”—this means that God is trustworthy. He is firm. He can be counted upon. The imagery here shows us that God holds us in His strong arms the way a parent would hold a helpless infant. He takes care of our needs through Christ.

The LORD is a “forgiving” God—Through Christ’s death on the cross, He cancels the debt of sin against us. He wipes the slate clean. He tosses our sins and rebellious actions to the bottom of the sea. Our sins are forgiven as far as the east meets the west.

After God appears to Moses with this powerful statement about Himself, in Exodus 34:8, he “quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped.” The ultimate response to the character and Person of our great God is immediate worship. The more we know about God, the more we worship Him. I pray that you spend time this week meditating upon the glorious love of our gracious God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The Unity of the Gospel

What unites us as evangelical Christians in Northeastern Colorado? What common bond do we share that will help us truly impact this community?  We may have different worship styles and denominational affiliations, but there is one foundation that binds us together.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am afraid that we are living in an evangelical culture where the gospel is being assumed and whenever this happens, the next generation almost always suffers a drift into liberalism, pragmatism, and a down-grade on the most important message we are called to share. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul reminds us that the gospel is of first importance. He writes, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

The gospel is good news that we are to announce and receive. The gospel is the glorious message of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and the all the implications that flow from this. The gospel by its very nature is news that is to be broadcast. It is to be announced. It is to be shared, preached, taught, and communicated so that sinners who are under God’s wrath will repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

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Day ONE of 50 Day Spiritual Journey

 

Yesterday, we started a new sermon series entitled “Identity…Being Who we are in Christ”.   I invited you on this 50-day spiritual journey of prayer, fasting, and seeking the face of the Lord for the future of our church and for your own personal spiritual growth.   There are two key verses that will serve as the foundation for the next 50 day spiritual journey—Romans 8:29 and 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Today, we will explore Romans 8:29.

Read Romans 8:29

Everything starts with the glory of God. God in His infinite majesty is the self-existent, all-sufficient, glorious Creator who in no way ever needs humans to somehow satisfy Himself. God is completely satisfied in being God.  He doesn’t need anything.  God was not lonely up in heaven and then decided to create humans as a way to fill some eternal void.  No, we serve a God who is absolutely sovereign and wonderful.

Yet, in His great mercy, He decided to create you and me in His image and for a very specific purpose. The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. God created us for His glory and He will not share that glory with anyone or anything else.

In Romans 8:29, Paul tells us that God has planned from the very beginning that we as His people be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus.  In other words, our ultimate purpose in life is to continually look more and more like Jesus.  God has a plan for us to grow to be more like His Son.

The word “conformed” in the Greek means to “morph to be like” or to “be similar” to Jesus.  Over the next 50 days, my prayer is that you experience this transformation and grow to look more like Jesus.

You may look at your spiritual life today and really question whether this is or can be a reality in your situation. You may be struggling in your walk with Christ. You may be frustrated with where you are right now.  You may feel an internal angst and frustration that you are not growing to look more like Jesus.

Here’s the good news!! This passage tells us that God has made it His priority to do this in your life. He has planned it in eternity past.

Now this process may be long, painful, and grueling, but it will be exciting, joyful, adventurous and well worth it.  Our goal is to find our ultimate satisfaction in knowing Christ more deeply.

Spend some time in prayer this morning thanking God that He predestined you to be conformed to Jesus and what He started, He will complete.

Read Philippians 1:6

Dear Father,

Your love is immense and almost hard to understand. Why in the world would you predestine me to look more and more like Jesus?  I know that you do all things for your great pleasure and for your own glory.  Grant me the desire to grow in Christ and please do a powerful work in me over the next 50 days to transform me more and more in the image of Christ.

In Christ’s powerful name,

Amen

Does it matter HOW we worship God?

Is there a way to actually worship God in an inappropriate manner? Does God care about HOW we worship Him just as much as He does that we simply worship Him?
Uzziah was the King of Israel whose reign started when he was sixteen years old and lasted 52 years. Over time, this faithful king grew complacent and developed a sense of pride in that he was “untouchable” and could do whatever he wanted to do. In 2 Chronicles 26, we find the story of how he acted impatiently and presumptuously and incurred that anger of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 26:16 says, “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. “ This was a grievous offense for only the priests were ordained by God to enter the temple and offer sacrifices. No king, no matter how long he had served, was given permission to do this. Yet, in his arrogance, he thought that he could break God’s commands and just casually enter the temple himself.

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The Awe of the Gospel

The glorious gospel of grace should evoke within us awe, passion, and thanksgiving. As those who have been saved by God’s amazing grace, we should be the most thankful people on the planet.  I want to share with you seven awe-inspiring reasons why I am thankful.

First of all, I am thankful that God sovereignly overcame my spiritual inability and depravity.  Romans 3:10-12 says, “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” I was enslaved to sin and Jesus rescued me out of this pit of destruction and granted me saving grace.

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The Hope of Psalm 43

Forest Fires.Tornadoes. School Shootings. Conflict in the Middle East. Astronomical gas prices. Bitter presidential primary races. Unemployment. Everywhere we look, there is pain, suffering, confusion, and anxiety. In this midst of all of these overwhelming issues, how can a person truly have joy? The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Biblically, there is a link to God’s glory and our joy.Psalm 43 is a heart-wrenching cry from a man who longed to experience the joy of the Lord.

Psalm 43 reads: “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!  Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

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Summer Reading List

I am an avid reader and cannot get enough of consuming good books. As a pastor who has a seminary education, I have read my fair share of books. We can be profoundly influenced and mentored by Christian authors that the Lord has used to advance His kingdom. With so many choices out there in the evangelical sub-culture, how does a Christian discern truth from error—especially when it is in print?

Part of our spiritual growth as believers is to build a good library of doctrinally sound and theologically solid books that will encourage, challenge, motivate and stimulate us to love and good works. As evangelicals, we adhere to Sola Scriptura which means that Scripture alone is our sole rule of faith and practice. There is no other authority above the Holy Bible and we are to measure every teaching of man against God’s revelation in Scripture. Yet, God in His providence, has given gifts to His church through godly men and women who have written books for the growth of God’s people.  We should realize that all humans are fallible and no one author or pastor or theologian is above reproof or correction and can at times be wrong.

As we begin the summer of 2012, I want to recommend to you my reading audience “Sean Cole’s Top Seven Summer Reading List”. These are books that have profoundly influenced me and I believe that every Christian should own. Some are more accessible and readable that others.

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