The Greatest of All Time

Muhammed Ali used to say he was the “greatest of all time!” and in terms of boxing, maybe. But there’s another “greatest” that comes to mind at Easter, and it’s the greatest verse in the Bible, John 3:16, because it has five “greatests” in it. Here they are:

1. The Greatest Being: For God…

All of science believes to some extent the opening section of the Bible…In the beginning was nothing, then BANG…something.

Christianity: In the beginning there was an ultimate being. Who created everything.
Atheism: In the beginning there was nothing. Nothing exploded. And became something. Makes perfect sense.

The Hubble Space Telescope is that giant Nasa telescope that beams back incredible pictures of the universe. George Will writes, “Soon the ACLU or the People for the American Way, or some similar faction of litigious secularism will file suit against NASA, charging that the Hubble Space Telescope unconstitutionally gives comfort to the religiously inclined. Science is augmenting, not subverting, the sense of awe that undergirds religious yearnings.”

Isaiah looked into the heavens some 2700 years ago and recognized the stars were made by (Isaiah 40:26), “His great incomparable power.”

Everything begins and ends with the Greatest Being, who used:

2. The Greatest Power: God so loved…

If you say “of course God loved David!” that just shows you’ve grown up in a Christian culture. For most of history and even now in most of the world, a loving God was NOT a common belief:

  • The Greek and Roman gods didn’t love mankind.
  • 33 million Hindu deities and none of their descriptions speak of the Christian God’s love that is innate, unique, grace-based and self-sacrificial.
  • What about Allah? The Muslim God? Well – one of his 99 names “el-Waddud” – means “loving.” He is called that twice in the Quran. But…Allah’s love is qualified – he loves the pure, those who do good deeds, he does not love sinners, he does not love the unjust, and the Quran clearly states…he does not love the non-Muslim.

The Christian God – loves sinners. Romans 5:8 says God loves us and died for us…WHILE we were sinners, unbelievers, and enemies of Him.

Love is the greatest power. It is God’s power, through Christ, to make the dead – alive, the lost – found, the sinner – holy, the filthy – pure, the guilty – innocent.

The Greatest Being, God, exhibited the Greatest Power, Love:

3. To the Greatest Degree: …the World….

“Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight – Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

God loves the Charismatics, but also Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics. God loves the conservatives – but also the liberals and the communists. God loves preachers – and the murderers, gamblers, bartenders, prostitutes and the addicts and on and on and on.

God loves ALL – ALL colors, ALL individuals, ALL social groups, ALL…God so loved…the world.

Which includes you. Jeremiah 31:3 God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

The greatest being with the greatest power to the greatest degree, gave:

4. The Greatest Gift: …that He gave His only Son…

I would be happy to risk everything to save someone from death. But if two were at risk and one was my daughter, I’m going for my daughter first.

Every. Single. Time.

God looks at the same equation and makes a different choice. He gave His Son…for you. And it’s not some crazy forced killing against the Son’s will. The Son willingly gave of Himself for you. He lived out John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” He gave the greatest gift. His life. He took the penalty for our sin.

Why? To deliver:

5. The Greatest Promise: … that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 

What do you do when your life is completely shot? Like the guy who has shattered his family? The woman who has killed every relationship? The job down the tubes? The financial crisis that makes life look like the bottom of a pit? What then?

What about the regrets. The “what ifs?” What if I hadn’t done that? What if I hadn’t hurt the ones I loved? What if I’d been a decent parent? What if I hadn’t been so selfish? What if I hadn’t failed in so many ways?

God gives you five “greats.” Here they are: 

  1. The Greatest Being God with
  2. the greatest power – loved,
  3. to the greatest degree – the entire world,
  4. so He gave the greatest gift – His Son,
  5. The greatest promise you can ever get on this earth:

That if you put your faith in Jesus, who died and then rose on the third day, that in spite of all the epic fails in your life, His death washed all of that way so that you can be part of His family, and live with Him forever and ever and ever in the greatest place prepared for you: heaven.

That’s the greatest promise of all time.

Amen amen.

 

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What If God Meant All That Stuff He Said?

Goliath: “Don’t worry Davey…”

We all play the “what if” game. It’s called worry.

“What if this doesn’t work out? What if the wheels are falling off? What if God’s not paying attention? What if I fail? What if the deal doesn’t come through?”

You’d think we love the WHAT IF Game. And maybe we do.

But let’s play it differently today. Let’s flip it. They can do it with houses, why not worry???

Just for today, try it this way:

“WHAT IF Jesus means everything He said? WHAT IF He’s really looking out for me? WHAT IF all things will work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose? WHAT IF He really meant all those promises in the Bible? WHAT IF He really is faithful? And reliable? And trustworthy?

And WHAT IF…Jesus closed a door, stopped a deal, shut down a dream, turned a page…to protect me, to protect a blessing, to redirect me? WHAT IF He really knows what He’s doing? WHAT IF He really has everything worked out and what if He will be faithful…to…me…always.”

If God blew smoke, the rings would
be really big..like the Milky Way.

WHAT IF He wasn’t just blowing smoke when He said: Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 


Well then that would take a lot of pressure off right?

But let’s take it a step further – outside of what can admittedly be our selfish, self centered, self serving lives:

WHAT IF God really cares about everyone – you know, that “For God so loved the world” bit? What if He wasn’t just blowing spoke when He said that?!
WHAT IF He has some clear intentionality about the way He has ordered your life and WHAT IF He really knows what He’s doing – He’s not just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks?

WHAT IF this deliberate, intentional God, who is so passionate about people, this God who can rescue anyone – WHAT IF He really intends to use you to be a  point of grace in some lives this week?

WHAT IF as you drive into your neighborhood this week- you pause and think “WHAT IF the Lord put me here on this block…on purpose? WHAT IF the Lord wants to use ME in my neighbor’s life? WHAT IF the drycleaner is not just a nameless automaton with no value beyond taking my money and giving me my clothes? WHAT IF God put me around my coworkers for a bigger and grander scheme than just collecting a paycheck?”
WHAT IF all these individuals are people Christ loves and wants in His family? And WHAT IF you started orienting your life around the fact that the Lord wants to use you…to be a point of grace in their life?

For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth…………..………...everywhere.   1 Thessalonians 1:8

What if…indeed.
Pastor David
Every time you post this, Facebook it, Tweet it, Share it, comment below, etc, an angel get’s its wings! Or maybe its a mosquito…or a buzzard…can’t remember…

Enough of the God Talk

The Apostle Paul would have probably had a good, good life if he just engaged in what I call “god talk.”

If Paul just talked about God (not Jesus), he never would have been:

  • Whipped with FORTY lashes on FIVE different occasions
  • Beaten with rods on THREE different occasions
  • Had men throw large rocks at him until they thought he was dead
  • Been shipwrecked THREE different times
  • Been adrift in the open sea for a night and day
  • In danger from rivers and robbers
  • In danger from his own people, at times taking oaths not to eat until they could murder Paul
  • At times starving, at times freezing sleeping in the countryside
  • And ultimately, tradition tells us, had his head cut off by Rome.

IF Paul just talked about God, his life would have been the comfortable life of middle class, well educated Jew.

But all of the above happened because Paul just could not shut up about Jesus. Paul should have known better! Jesus said “ALL men will HATE you because Me.” Matt. 10:22  Not ambivalent towards you, not luke warm about you, but they would HATE you. Not the best recruiting sales pitch ever. “Become loathsome – join the team Jesus!”

Forewarned, everywhere Paul went, no matter what the cost, no matter how much it hurt, no matter what the danger, no matter how unpopular, no matter how loathed, no matter what….Paul talked about Jesus.

He could have talked about God all day long and everyone would have been happy. The Jews would be happy because they worshipped God. The Greeks and Romans would have been happy because they worshipped lots of gods.

But Paul was one of those intolerant and narrow minded types that had to preach Jesus.

It’s the same today. If you talk about a generic “God”, you will be OK. The Hindu will be alright because they have 600 gods, the Muslim will be alright because they worship a god. The Jew will be alright because they worship a god.  Even Oprah will be OK because she says “there are many paths to what you call God”. If you stick with “God talk” everyone will be OK because “god” comes in all sizes and shapes and can molded into whatever shape the listener wants.

But if you want to cause a stir, mention Jesus. Because that narrows it down quite a bit. That’s the 2nd person of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the Christian God. That’s the One who died and rose and again. The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev. 1:8). And that’s the intolerant One who declared of Himself, “no one comes to the Father, except through Me,” John 14:6.

But even more, He’s the welcoming One, who says:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:28-29.

Paul couldn’t be quiet about this great Jesus. Why? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”  Romans 1:16.

As sinful human beings prone to wander, we must always be ready to apologize quickly when needed. But there is at least one thing we should be completely unapologetic about in this life, and that is the name of Jesus. Enough of the generic “god talk”. Let’s lift up the name of Jesus.