Sunday, March 29, 2020

How Majestic is Your Name! Psalm 8

How Majestic is His Name!
Psalm 8, 3/29/2020, Remsen Bible Online

Introduction
Proverbs 27:1 says, Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. How true that has proved these past days and weeks. Acknowledging the truth of this, let me follow the wisdom of James who tells us to preface our plans with, if the Lord wills. If the Lord wills, we're going to pause our study in John for a few more weeks. 

Many of us feel uncertain about the world around us. In these times, with daily shifts in the news about the coronavirus, responses by the governments in our country and around the world, the resulting economic troubles- there are increased levels of anxiousness and worry. I'm not normally given to anxiety, but I've noticed in my own life what almost feels like a background noise, a hum of nervousness-not about any one thing, but just general worry and concern. And the effects are not good. 

For example, Friday morning I heard the news that a prominent world leader had tested positive for Coronavirus. This leader’s handling of the virus and the government response in his country has been somewhat in question; and when I heard the news of his sickness, I blurted out, “serves him right!” -WHich then made me think, wait, what? That’s an evil response to sickness and potential physical peril for another human being. A human being made in the image of God. Yet that is precisely where I found myself. Vulnerable to hateful, ungodly thoughts, because my mind was gripped by anxiousness and worry, rather than by the word of God. 

So how do we respond? How can I, and how can we, combat these feelings of anxiousness and fretting? How can we steer ourselves clear from the ungodly slope we’re so given to slide down? One practice I have found helpful when experiencing such feelings, after repenting for my fear and failure to trust my heavenly Father, is to turn to the Psalms. The Psalms have many precious truths and vital instructions for hard times. But it’s not just the content. The very form of poetry, of musical language, gives us comfort and peace. These lyrics sit with our minds in a way in which mere prose often doesn’t.

So my aim, God willing, is to spend the next little while focusing on the Psalms. We started last week in Psalm 46, and this morning we’ll hear from Psalm 8. (Read Psalm 8)

The Majesty of YHWH
Psalm 8 opens and closes with an exclamation of praise, O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! The fact that David opens and closes the Psalm in this manner makes clear that this is the main point in his mind. The bulk of the Psalm speaks about mankind in various ways. But the opening and closing square our attention on God, his majesty, his splendor, his power. 

David writes, O LORD, our Lord. If you are looking at your Bible, you will notice that although it sounds like he is repeating himself, the first first of those “Lords” is in fact spelled differently. It’s in all caps. What does that indicate? We have two different words being translated by the English word lord. Typically, English-speaking translators have translated Yahweh, the name which God gives to himself when speaking to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3), as LORD, all caps. The use of those small caps to finish out the word helps us to distinguish between when the writer is using the personal name of God, Yaweh, and when they are using the title of Lord for God, which in this verse is translating the word Adonai, meaning Sovereign or Ruler. 

The name Yahweh itself points to God as the self-existent one. When Moses asked God, who shall I tell the people sent me? God replied, I am who I am. God stands before all things, above all things, he needs no one outside of himself. He is totally self-sufficient. And what David is saying is that this self-existent being, this God who needs no one and yet in his mercy has revealed himself to Israel and redeemed them from bondage in Egypt, he is David’s Lord. He is David’s Adonai, his ruler, his king. He is the ruler of David’s people. O LORD, our Lord. But is he just the ruler of David and the Jewish people?

Far from it! How majestic is your name in all the earth! This God, his name, his character, everything that he is, is majestic and glorious in and over all of creation. Now we realize that at David’s point in history, and even today this is not true in the sense of all people everywhere acknowledging how majestic his name is. The splendour of God’s name is not seen as it should be. But he nonetheless is splendid, he is majestic, he is the Ruler of all. 

David continues, You have set your glory above the heavens. The word translated glory in this verse can literally mean the beauty of God. His beauty is set above the heavens, it is painted in the sky. It’s higher than anything we can see, and yet what we see serves as an arrow pointing us in his direction. 

If God is this beautiful, and yet his beauty is not seen by all, shouldn’t someone proclaim it? Shouldn’t someone say something? Yes. Indeed, Yahweh has appointed heralds, messengers of his majesty. But they’re not who you’d expect.


The Messengers YHWH’s Majesty
We meet the unexpected ambassadors of Yahweh’s majesty in v2, Out of the mouth of babies and infants you have established strength. Babies? Infants? How in the world has God established his strength on the basis of what they have to say?

Do you look for God to use the mighty? Do you think that you can’t speak up for God because you lack wisdom? Brothers and sisters, God isn’t too concerned about how intelligent or articulate his spokesmen and women are. Babes and infants can’t give a detailed defense of why the family is an important institution. They can tell you who gives them food. Your toddler knows who gives them hugs when they are sad or scared. They can say, “Mom” or “Dad”. They know whom they can trust. And they can learn to trust God. 

We are learning the New City Catechism as a family, and the first question asks, What is our only hope in life and death? Calvin, my less than 2 year old, knows the answer: God! Is that the full answer? No. As we mature in our faith we certainly can grow in our understanding of who God is. But you, young person, don’t ever think you know too little to praise God. New believer, don’t ever think you have too little knowledge to tell someone what Jesus has done for you. God has chosen the small things of this world to shame the wise. 

Jesus quotes this verse in response to the chief priests and the scribes in Matthew 21, when they are indignant that children are saying, Hosanna to the Son of David! The religious leaders come to Jesus saying, do you hear this? He replies, Yes; have you never read: “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise”? Jesus references the Greek translation of verse 2, which clarifies what is coming out of the children’s mouth: praise.

Why does God use those people whom the world would discount as the “Secretaries of his praise”? Because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. So God sends out little kids to stop the violent attackers? Well, yes. Because God would have us see that he is the one silencing the wisdom of the world. 
Which brings us to our next point: if Yahweh has appointed the unexpected, babes, infants, and those whom the world discounts as the messengers of his majesty; who then are the ministers of his majesty?


The Ministers of YHWH’s Majesty
Verses 3 and 4 read, When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man, that you are mindful of him, and the son of man, that you care for him? 

Imagine David back in his shepherd years. He lays on his back in the evening and gazes into the night sky. Have you ever been somewhere where there is little pollution at night, somewhere where you can really see the stars? It is one of the most magnificent sights in all of creation. You gaze up, looking at these stars which are obviously an unfathomable distance away. No one ever looked up at the stars and thought, wow, I’m super huge and important. You feel tiny, miniscule, unimpressive. Which is precisely what David expresses in these verses. You did this with your fingers! You control the expanse of the sky, you placed the moon, you hung the stars: how could I be of any importance to you? How could this tiny hill of ants even matter to a God who’s dealing with Orion, with Pleiades? Why would you care for us?

Yet, David isn’t just a keen observer of nature. Nature rightly makes us feel small, because we are in fact small. But we are also honored. Verses 5-8, Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea. 

What is man that God pays attention to him? Man is the one whom God has given dominion and authority over all creation. Human beings, male and female, have been crowned by God with glory and honor. Do you remember Genesis 1:26-27? 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

The following verses detail God’s blessing upon the first man and woman, and how he charged them to take dominion over the plants, the earth, the animals-everything he had made. God made this world, but God intends to rule it through the agency of his highest creation: human beings. 

But there’s a problem with all of this, isn’t there? We often seem to be at odds with this created world. We live in the Midwest, where fears of floods and tornadoes are constant companions. Out west the wildfires seem to get worse every year. Worldwide there is always news of a tsunami, or a famine, or some other problem seemingly outside of human control. We live in March of 2020, when we are seeing a spreading global pandemic take thousands of lives. If God made a good world, where did it go?

The answer, brothers and sisters, is found in the lords, the rulers, the caretakers of God’s good earth: human beings. Our rebellion cursed the world. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God the whole creation paid the price. Of course the cost for human beings is most severe: we are beings who are not simply physical, but spiritual as well, so the curse of God on us means not only physical decay and death, but spiritual death and destruction as well. But this world over which we have been given dominion suffers at the hands of human beings who fail to represent God’s good reign. 

Does this mean each bad thing that happens, virus or natural disaster is the response of God to a specific sin, seeking to somehow get revenge on us? Absolutely not. But it does mean that this world groans under the weight of our curse. Romans 8:19-22 says, For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole world has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

All the problems in this world will one day be fixed. What day is that? The day on which the sons of God, which is to say, believers in Jesus Christ, are fully revealed. What does Paul mean by fully revealed? I think he is talking of the day when in the New Heavens and New Earth human beings are ruling and reigning with Jesus Christ. When we are once again ruling the earth, but now with sin removed from the picture. But what makes all of this possible?

How can you, how can I, move from being those under the righteous judgement of God to being those whom he will one day reveal as his true children? How can we go from the bondage which all of creation groans under, to the freedom of being in God’s own family? 

The writer to the Hebrews picks up our passage in Hebrews 2:6-9, It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 

Jesus came as the son of man, par excellence. The one who, though being very God of very God, in order to save men took on human form. Taking on a true human body and a human nature, he came and he did the unexpected: he claimed his crown and his glory, but not by slaughtering his enemies. He was crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death. Human beings, ever since Adam, have failed in our calling as God’s image bearers, his representatives on this earth. Instead of being God’s ambassadors, his ministers, we have instead been his enemies, rebels against the king. Jesus came to conquer that rebellion-by dying for us. By absorbing the weight and penalty of our sin. So that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 

We have failed in our task as God’s image bearers. But you can be forgiven of your failure, cleansed of your sin, relieved of its penalty, simply by trusting the king who died for you. And if you do so, he will begin remaking you. In Colossians 3:9-10 the Apostle Paul writes, you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 

In Christ, all those who trust in him can be forgiven their failure, redeemed from the sin, and have the image of God restored bit by bit and piece by piece. The mirror which we were meant to be can be refinished by the Master craftsman. We are, as 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, being transformed into the same image, from one degree of glory to another. And we can once again be ministers, not simply of his rule over creation, but of the excellencies of his grace. We can all become like those babies and infants who use our mouths to lift his praises. 

All of Christ’s redeemed can proclaim, O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Our Refuge-Giving God, Psalm 46

Our Refuge-Giving God 
Psalm 46, RBF Online, 03/22/2020

Introduction:

I’m sure at least parts of this Psalm are familiar to you. God is our refuge and strength. Be still and know that I am God. These are phrases often heard in conversation, on coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc. I found it interesting, though, when I read through this Psalm with my kids and asked for their observations, my 7 year old said, “it’s very violent.”

And she’s right. Not many children’s story Bibles depict God spraying fire down on chariots or snapping the bows and spears of enemy warriors. So what is happening in the midst of this confusion? How can a Psalm both be violent and comforting?

In this Psalm we are going to see three truths about God which have direct implications for our lives. The first one is in verses 1-3.

God is Present, so you need not fear. v1-3
- One of the most central questions in my life has been this: can I trust God?
- How does the Psalmist answer? God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
 

- First, he pictures God as our refuge. As a shelter, a place of hiding and protection. I often think as a storm rolls through, be it a summer thunderstorm or winter snowstorm, thank God for a house with sealed walls.
- When you face the storms of life, what sort of shelter do you have? What are you counting on?

- Second, he calls him our strength. This is interesting because a shelter protects you from something, but strength typically is necessary to get through a hard time or situation.
- For those who trust in God, he is both of these things. He protects, he provides shelter. But for those things he chooses not to protect us from, he gives the strength to persevere and keep on walking.
- What sort of troubles or problems assail you? Are you concerned about the Coronavirus, your 401(k), or your marriage? Where are you looking for your help and your hope?

There is someone standing ready to help. God is a very present help in trouble. That idea of “very present” implies that he is well proved, trusted, tried, readily available. Do you know God in this way? As one who is actually right there with you?

- Verse 2 begins with the word Therefore. In light of the fact that God is very present, that he provides strength and protection, we will not fear.
- The truth about God being there for his people is important all the time. It becomes life and death when life goes awry.

- Take a moment to think about this imagery. What should be more reliable than the earth or more stable than the mountains?

- I recently read Tara Westover’s memoir, Educated. In this book, the mountain on which Westover was raised figures almost as a character in its own right. For people who grow up in proximity to mountains, especially a particular mountain, there is a certain degree to which that mountain shapes your existence. It changes how you drive, where you walk, where you live. It’s an important piece of the world as you know and understand it. Even here in the Midwest we can feel that way about the soil, the earth beneath our feet.
- Yet in this metaphor these things, earth and mountains, are slipping away. They are being shaken and moved from their places. Those things once thought to be fixed are being removed.
- To the ancient mind the sea was a place of danger and chaos. Shipwreck, sharks, a place where storms can come suddenly with no source of help- even today the ocean can be a very dangerous place.
- So with the seas swallowing the mountains, we seem to have those places or objects which we can count being consumed by the place of danger. Cosmos is descending into chaos. Order is melting into madness. Its waters foam...the mountains tremble at its swelling.
- Yet in all this, the people of God need not fear. Why? Because God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is present, no matter what the trouble or troubles which assail us. And if God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Before we move onto the next section, we need to address a word which will pop up two more times in this Psalm. It’s the word Selah. It occurs 74 times in the Bible, all but three of those occurrences coming in the Psalms. It’s almost certainly a musical marker, but its precise significance is not known. Many scholars postulate that it indicated a pause, perhaps to give the hearer time to reflect. I think, whether that was the intended use originally or not, that this is certainly a useful way for us to use that word. It’s a helpful marker to say, pause, reflect, meditate on what you’ve just read.

So, soak in this truth: if you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, God is with you. He will protect you, strengthen you, help you. You need not be afraid.


God gives Life, so you can have joy. V4-7

- The first thing we should probably notice in this second movement of the Psalm, is that while water played a menacing role in the first movement, the river here stands in stark contrast. This river is the source of life and joy.
- The next thing we need to do is ask a couple of questions, what is this city of God? And what is this gladness giving river?
- Certainly the original readers of this Psalm would have heard City of God and habitation of the Most High and thought of Jerusalem, Mount Zion.
- The puzzling thing when we realize this, though, is that Jerusalem has no river. A free-flowing river would be a marvelous resource to have for your city, especially in times of siege. Yet if the city is Jerusalem, and Jerusalem has no river, how do we account for this image?
- It would seem that God is painting himself as the one who is the river. The river of life, giving gladness and stability to Jerusalem is the Most High God himself.

- Verse 5, we read that God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God himself is the one providing strength and protection to the city.
- The idea of moved here parallels the ideas of gives way in v2, and totters in v6
- So long as God is in the midst of his people, they have no reason to fear.

- That condition-so long as he is in their midst-was actually bad news for those of the Jewish people who assumed that God was primarily concerned with their ethnicity.
- God’s presence departs the temple in Ezekiel 10 due to the unfaithfulness of the people.
- Where does God’s presence now reside on earth? John 2:19; 4:21, 23-24
- Those who trust in Christ as their only hope for salvation, whose hope is in God, receive the gift of his Holy Spirit: John 7:37-39

- If you have the Spirit, God’s presence dwells with you to comfort you, point you to Christ, and to give you joy. The rivers make glad the city of God.
- And this is a gladness impervious to the tottering of the nations, is God intimidated by the questions of the people, by their raging? He utters his voice, they melt.
- What defines life for you this morning? If you’re looking somewhere besides Jesus, you are missing out on the rivers of living water which are yours for the drinking.
- The Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob-the God of the people of Israel, the God of all. The ruler over all things. He is the one offering you this life. Ponder this: He has offered you life. Jesus came that you might have life, and have it abundantly.


God is God, so be still. V8-11
- Here’s the violence: we are welcomed to come behold the bloody conquest of the Lord.
- This is the Prince of Peace, as Isaiah calls him, coming in on his charger and devastating his enemies. In the words of OT scholar Derek Kidner, “Although the outcome is peace, the process is judgment.”
- Do you realize as a believer that one of the reasons we can have peace in this world is that we know one day the world will be peaceful? Not by human might or effort, but by an Almighty and Righteous judge laying down the law.
- It’s in this context that we get v10, be still, and know that I am God. The context indicates that God is actually speaking to the nations-quit fighting against the Sovereign! Quit rebelling against the king, you fools! The Christian Standard Bible translates it, stop your fighting.
- But we can still take this as a source of comfort and peace, even if God isn’t saying here to turn the relaxing music list on on Spotify.
- We can take comfort, that one day he will be seen as who he is. He will be exalted among the nations. He will be exalted in all the earth. Every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess. Jesus is Lord.

Do you realize that this same truth can give us comfort in the midst of any circumstance that seems troubling or could cause us anxiety? The same God who controls the nations, who steers the hearts of rulers like a small stream, who knows the hairs on your head: this same God controls stock markets and viruses, he handles health care systems and grocery stores. He does not always do things the way we might advise him. But he acts in accord with his own inscrutable wisdom, a wisdom bent on doing good to all those who trust in him.

God is Present, so you need not be afraid. God gives Life, so you can have joy. God is God. So be still.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

6 Reasons to Take Heart, John 16:25-33



Take Heart
John 16:25-33
Remsen Bible Fellowship, 03/15/2020

Introduction
  • We live in a world utterly gripped by fear. Fear of Coronavirus. Fear of economic uncertainty. Fear of the other team winning the election. Fear of climate change. 
  • On an individual level we face fear of relationships breaking down. Fear of change. Fear of death. Fear that our complete lack of control might be made manifest. We’re afraid of this fact: we aren’t God.
  • Jesus' disciples faced fear in the upper room. 14:1, 27; 16:6, 20, 22
  • What we saw last week was that this sorrow was to be short-lived. Now, as Jesus comes to the culmination of this discourse, this last long conversation before the cross, in v33 he tells them to take heart. 
  • But he doesn’t just say take heart, or make that statement devoid of context. In verses 25-33 I think what we find are 6 reasons that believers in Jesus can have peace, 6 reasons not to fear-6 reasons to take heart. 

1. Take Heart, because the Truth Will be Clearer. V25
  • Jesus has been speaking to his disciples in figurative language. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all been symbolic. Much of what he’s saying is literally true (though there are numerous metaphors, a woman in labor, vine/branches, etc.)
  • The point Jesus is making is that the truth he’s communicating to the disciples in this upper room has largely been missed by them. Cf. 16:12
  • But there is coming an hour, Jesus tells them, when it will not be so. When is this hour? Two options: 
  1. After the resurrection, when Jesus teaches the OT in light of himself, Luke 24:25-27, 44-49; Acts 1:3b
  2. After Pentecost, when the Spirit of Truth comes, 14:16-17; 15:26; 16:13
  • I think the answer is that Jesus is speaking of both-this promise begins to be fulfilled when he himself opens up the Scriptures and their minds to those Scriptures. But that work is brought to true fruition for the original disciples and even now for us as the Spirit illumines our minds and hearts as we look to the Book. It’s a discipline taught by Jesus: read in light of him (Luke 24), that is enabled by the Spirit (15:26). This is central, because Jesus is the clearest revelation of the Father (1:18). Take heart, Jesus has made the Father known.



2. Take Heart, because You Have Direct Access to God. v26
  • Last week we went over the passages in ch 14-16 which discuss answered prayer. We won’t rehash those this week. But note to whom we pray: The Father.
  • How can we, as sinners, have direct access to God? Don’t we need Jesus’ intercession for us (cf Hebrews 7:25, Romans 8:34)?
  • The answer is that it is only through Jesus that we can have this access. He is the way, the truth, and the life. No access to the Father but by him. But those who believe in his name aren’t given temporary hall passes, they aren’t given Jesus’ mailing address so that they can pass requests along up the food chain. They are given full rights of Sonship. 
  • If you have trusted in Jesus as your Savior, the Father is willing-more than willing, glad!-to hear you, to have you bring your requests before him. 
  • Is that not comforting news in troubled times? That the Sovereign Ruler of the universe welcomes you before his Throne of Grace-into his lap, as it were-where you can come and cast all of your anxieties before him. Take heart, he hears you.

3. Take Heart, because the Father Loves You. v27
  • This is obviously connected to our previous point, in fact Jesus states it as the reason we can have confidence in point two. The Father hears us directly because he loves us. 
  • We know that the Father has loved the world in such lavish fashion as to give his Son (3:16). Yet love in v27 seems directed at one group: believers.
  • Why does the Father love the disciples in v27? They loved and obeyed Jesus. So this is “love” in a different sense than his love sending the Son, or even of his love drawing them to salvation (6:65, no one can come unless it is granted him by my Father). That initiating love of God to purchase, to redeem, to give the eyes of faith has actually produced in the disciples that which God finds lovely: love for and belief in Jesus. 
  • Does that bother you, that God might find something in you to love? Consider two things: 
  1. Luke 2:52. Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man.
  2. Remember how much emphasis Jesus lays on abiding. 15:9-10. There is no merit in us which earns salvation, and even to stay saved is ultimately the keeping work of God in us. But that work of God in us is not accomplished apart from our real growth in love, trust, and obedience. 
  • So for the Father to love the disciples because of their love for Jesus doesn’t mean that he didn’t love them before. But it does mean his love has changed, and it’s the kind of changed love we can experience and enjoy if we are trusting in Jesus. As we grow in likeness to Jesus, the Father delights in our growth. Take heart, because the Father loves you.

4. Take heart, because Jesus accomplished His Work. v28
  • It’s easy to believe that the world is out of control, isn’t it? One of our greatest comforts is that in this unstable world there is a God in Heaven who reigns, who accomplishes his purposes inexorably. He’s unstoppable.
  • What is God’s primary means of accomplishing that work? Isaiah 55:11-12
  • What is Jesus called in the beginning of John’s gospel? 1:1
  • Do you see the pattern in v28, and its connection to Isaiah 55? Jesus has come down from the Father, he’s come into the world, and now in the upper room he is announcing his return. What is implied in this statement? That his work is finished. That he left nothing undone. He, by the time the disciples see him again on Sunday, will have accomplished what the Father sent him to do. In Jesus’ own words from 19:30, It is finished. 
  • Brothers and sisters, take heart-Jesus has purchased your salvation. He has accomplished his work.

5. Take heart, because you can’t mess up God’s plan. V29-32
  • This might seem a little less obvious, but let’s see how the disciples are responding to Jesus. 
  • Back in v25 Jesus had predicted a time when he would speak to them plainly, when the veil would come off their eyes, as it were. But our dear friends think that moment has already come. 
  • D.A. Carson puts it in succinct-if somewhat cutting-fashion when he says, “Misunderstanding is even more pathetic when people think it no longer exists.”
  • Have you ever been that person? Thinking you understand but you just don’t. I’m not sure if it’s worse to be that person or to watch it happen to someone else. Cringe-worthy. 
  • The disciples are definitely cringe-worthy here: now we know; this is why we believe
  • We don’t have to doubt their sincerity at all for us to still echo Jesus’ sarcastic question in v31, Now you believe? Really, guys?

  • Their confidence is all the more sad when we see what Jesus tells them in v32: they’re going to scatter and desert Jesus. His moment of greatest need for friendship, companionship, fellowship in prayer-this was the time of their greatest failure. First through drowsiness, and then through cowardice. They’re dense in the upper room, they doze in the garden, and they desert when the going gets tough.
  • But does any of this gum up God’s plan? Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. Brothers and sisters, we are often our own worst enemy, aren’t we? And if our understanding of salvation, or of God’s work in the world, is centered upon how great we are doing in following him, we could well find ourselves in a shipwreck of anxiety, because we fail just like these men. But the center of our hope is not our own obedience. It is the power and the goodness of God to accomplish his purposes. That doesn’t free us from responsibility to act, to be obedient, to pray. But it does remove from our shoulders a weight which we cannot bear: the control of outcomes. God will accomplish his purposes. 
  • So when (not if, when) you mess up, you're overconfident, or you fail, take heart: God still sits on his throne. 

6. Take heart, because Jesus has overcome the world. V33

  • Jesus has said these things, stretching back into ch 13, with the express purpose of building peace into his disciples. He’s giving the Spirit, he’s giving them each other, the Father and the Son will dwell with Spirit-indwelt believers, he’s coming back, he’s chosen them to abide and bear fruit until then. All of these things he has said to give them a center. A place to stand when life gets stormy.
  • And he promises that life will get stormy. There’s no maybe in, In the world you will have tribulation. Beginning with these guys, who mostly get killed for proclaiming Jesus, down to the present day. Friendship with God is enmity with the world. Yet this should not cause us to fear in any way.
  • Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world. 
  • When Jesus says I have overcome he uses the perfect tense in Greek, which speaks of a one time action that has continuing effects. He overcame the world in the hour of which he speaks so frequently in this Gospel. On the cross, in rising from the dead, in ascending to the right hand of the Majesty on High. He has done this. It is finished. But its consequences are far from finished, they continue on into the present day and stretch into the infinite future. We will never be past receiving the benefits which Jesus purchased for us by overcoming the world on the cross. 
  • Brothers and sisters, do you have fears this morning? Oh soul, are you weary and troubled, no light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior: because he died for thee. 
  • In this world we will have trouble. But take heart: Jesus has overcome the world. 

1 Samuel 4, God's Not Your Puppet

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