What is God like? And what difference does that make?

Sermon Review and Application for Exodus 3

 

 

“What is your name?” That’s one of the first questions we ask when we want to find out about a person. In the passage this week, Exodus 3, this question was asked of God. God respond by saying, “I am who I am.” By this name, God reveals that he is completely independent of everything else. He will not be put into a box, controlled or made to do anything. At the end of the day, everything bends to God’s will. Moses, who asked God his name, needed to know this because he was about to stand before the world’s most powerful dictator and demand that this dictator let go of his source of free labor.  We need to know this too because we live in a world that does not welcome God. And to follow God in this world requires that we go against the flow.

You can listen to the message here.

 

I closed with an extended quote from Andre Sue. Some people liked the quote, so here it is for you to read again:

I bagged rice on a co-op line elbow-to-elbow with a peaceful woman who was the mother of five children and several foster children. I asked how she did it, and she said, “I do the next thing that needs to be done.”

Laurie is a Christian, so I know what lay unspoken in her answer: God is Sovereign. if God were not in perfect control, Laurie would have to control all things—even every atom in the universe, to assure a desirable outcome. But she knows she cannot in fact control all things, not even the next two minutes, and so she concedes control to God.

Second, she believes that the God who controls all things controls them for her good (Romans 8:28). On these twin pillars does her soul find rest.

Laurie’s Bible also contains commands, rules to live by. And so, what Laurie has done, evidently, is to divide life into two categories: the things she can and must do something about, and the things she cannot and must not, for they belong to God (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Am I too busy these days? Discouraged over duties left undone? I will preach to myself that there is only one priority—the glory of God—and under that the several duties. When these come flying fast and thick, I will do triage and decide what should come “next.” It’s God’s problem, not mine, to orchestrate the universe and make it all pan out.

Am I fearful? Fear is a focus on phantoms of the theoretical future. But the future is God’s, not mine; mine is only the present moment. I am fearful because I’m thinking I have to live the rest of my life. But I don’t. I only have to live the next five minutes. To me belongs obedience; to Him belongs outcomes.

We have so far discussed in general terms. But life does not throw up “general terms”; it throws up brutal concreteness: No one’s been fed dinner; Aimee is having a sixth-grade crisis; the roof leaks; unread newspapers pile up like an indictment…. I will review what I know of God, and do “the next thing.” His job is making it all work.

Am I depressed? The concept of doing “the next thing” is just the ticket. Granted, I am far too weak to go on with life—but I can do a load of laundry. And after that I can make the kids breakfast. And after that I can pick up the phone and call a deacon for help on balancing that checkbook. One foot in front of the other: Do “the next thing.”

Have I totally messed up my life? Fine, make a list. Here are the things I cannot do: I cannot turn back the clock, I cannot cork up sinful words once spoken, I cannot take back squandered opportunities in career or love. But here are things I can do: I can start from today—with today’s time, today’s skills, today’s health, today’s grace. I can do this trusting, even at this stage of the game, that God is still sovereign and still good. And faith, come to think of it, is the whole enchilada.

 

Here are a few application questions:

  • What if someone were to ask you this question: Why is it that you think you can be successful in life or in ministry and why is it that you can be a good witness for God? How would you answer them? Would you point to something in yourself? Would you point to your personality? Your education? Your past achievements? Or do you point to the fact that, if you are a Christian, God is with you?
  • Are there ways that you try to shrink God down to a manageable size?
  • What do you think of Andre Sue’s article about doing the “next thing” God has called you to do while resting in God’s sovereignty to orchestrate his sovereign purposes?  What is the “next thing” God has called you to do?
  • God says that he knows His people’s afflictions. “Know” here means more than bare intellectual knowledge, but experiential knowledge. The afflictions are his afflictions. He feels their pain. Does this encourage you? How might it change the way you see the difficulties in your life if you remember that God “knows” them?
  •  “Proverbs 3 instructs us to acknowledge God in all our ways. Acknowledging Him means recognizing that he has first place in everything. Do you acknowledge God in all your life? In your life at Church? at work? at home?”

 

(Image above taken from

About mike

As a result of God's sovereign grace, Mike is--first and foremost--a Christian. He is the husband of a beautiful wife, father of five wonderful kids, and pastor of Greenbelt Baptist Church, in Maryland.
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