Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The 4 G's: God is Gracious

• We try to prove ourselves to ourselves
• We try to prove ourselves to others
• We try to prove ourselves to God

• God is Gracious, so we don’t have to prove ourselves

• All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can brag. Eph. 2:3-9

• What are some indicators that someone is not believing the truth that God is Gracious?

• “Unless we understand what we deserve to get from God, then the gift of God’s son doesn’t seem that great.” Tim Chester

• The payment for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

• But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

• What would our lives look like if we truly believed that God is Gracious?

The 4 G's: God is Good

Recap from last week
• Head, Heart and Hands
• Behind every sin is a lie about God
• God is great – so I don’t have to be in control

God is Good (outline)
I. I Need…
a. What needs do all humans have?
b. Why did God give us needs?
i. To reveal his character (good)

ii. So that we would look to him to provide

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of heavenly lights” James 1:17

I Tim 6:17 “17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Do you believe that everything good you have comes from God? Even the air you breathe? Does it create in us a posture of thankfulness? Every meal, every sip of water, every breath, is an opportunity to remember that God is good.

iii. To remind us of our need for him

“Ask and it will be given to you. Mt.7:7”
“You do not have because you do not ask God” James 4:2

iv. Our physical needs are signposts to a deeper spiritual need. Let’s read a story that illustrates this truth for us.

II. Samaritan woman (John 4)
a. Read story
b. Questions
i. Where was this woman going to for satisfaction? What was she looking for?
ii. What was the result?
iii. Where did Jesus point her to? (to himself, to worship the true God)
iv. What does this teach us about God? (That he gives true satisfaction through Jesus) Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of God’s goodness. We have a need. God satisfies it.
v. (God’s Spirit)

III. God is Good, so we don’t need to look elsewhere for satisfaction.
a. Idolatry is when we turn a good thing into an ultimate thing

1st Commandment: “Do not have any other God’s before me…You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” Ex. 20:3, 5. (Same Slide)

i. Sin arises when we desire something else more than we desire God.
ii. In our hearts we worship what we desire rather than worshiping God
iii. God is good VS What I desire is bigger and better than God, I believe it offers more than God offers
iv. What is your “if only” statement? If only… I would be happy. Again, not all desires are bad, but when we turn a good thing into an ultimate thing, it becomes sin.

What are some things we look to for satisfaction instead of believing that God is good, going to him and trusting his provision?

What is the result?

Why do we keep going back to those things?

What would our lives look like if we truly believed that God is good, so we don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction?

God desired so much to be our satisfaction that Jesus sacrificed himself so that we could be brought near to God, and sent his very Spirit to live in us. Jesus Christ himself lives in us through his spirit. What else do we need?

IV. God is good, but he is not a divine waiter…
a. True needs vs perceived needs (you do not receive because you do not ask rightly)
b. If I do not have this, God is not good. If this happens, God is not good…
i. “God is not the key to the good life, he IS the good life… God must be desired for his own sake, not as the secret of worldly success.” – Tim Chester
1. Jesus says: I am the way the truth and the life.
2. Jesus says: I have come to give life, abundantly
ii. Paul
2 Cor. 11:23-29 "23Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?"

If we look in the following chapter, Paul continues on saying that in order that he wouldn't begin to think too highly of himself for persevering through all these trials, God gave him "a messenger from Satan"and, though Paul asked, God would not take it away. God's response was: 9"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." [And Paul Says] “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”

God's goodness was not dependent on his willingness to alleviate Paul's suffering, but was proved in his grace and his provision of strength to enable Paul to persevere. God did not offer Paul a comfortable life; he offered him Himself.

iii. “God always seeks the best for his people, and that best is himself. Famine, thirst, plagues and conflict are acts of divine love when their aim is to bring us back to God.”
1. Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest.
2. I am the bread of life, the living water
Do you really believe that God Himself is Good? That He alone can truly satisfy the deepest longings of your soul?
Can you say with the psalmist, “As the dear pants for water, so my soul longs after you, Oh, Lord.”

Are you drinking out of the toilet or out of the spring of living water?

V. God created us with needs so that we would look to him to fulfill them and so that he can show his goodness by satisfying those needs. His creation is a part of that provision, and he gives us good gifts to satisfy those needs. But ultimately, those physical needs and provision point us to our deeper need for God himself. Do you believe that God is good? That he has given you everything you need for life and godliness, as his word says? Or are you believing that his provision is not enough? That if you only had that boyfriend, that drug, that new TV, that perfect family, that prestigious job, you would be satisfied?

What do you habitually go to in your life for satisfaction? Where is my discontent showing my lack of belief in the goodness of God?

How do we change? I begin by confessing to God that I have not believed that he is good, but have believed that something else is better than he is and that he has not provided what I need.

Repent in your heart and remind yourself that God is good. When that puff of marijuana is calling, when you are tempted to relieve your heartache through food, sex, money or alcohol, talk to yourself. Tell yourself that God is good, and that you don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction. And then do it! Go to him. And the more you do, the more you will be satisfied in him.

Change is about enjoying the freedom from sin and delight in God that God gives to us through Jesus.