Believe - God is Personal
Today is sermon 2 from our Believe series - after this we’ll have 28 more to go!
The topic this week is God is personal. Of the 4,200 religions in the world, the Judeo-Christian faith is largely unique in the fact that God reveals Himself, God is knowable, He’s near, He’s active in our lives and He desires a personal relationship with each person. So God is personal.
Key idea: I believe God is involved in and cares about my daily life.
That truth separates Christianity from religion.
Religion is based upon human effort to reach a spiritual end.
Christianity is based upon God’s effort to reach humanity.
- and that is accomplished through personal relationship. We see that in the OT and NT. The relationship with God has always been by grace through faith.
For what reason would God be involved in my life? That question has been around for millennia. Nearly 3,000 years ago David asked,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
David, the one known as the man after God’s own heart was asking, “Why do you bother with us?” I still wonder why God puts up with me?
Well, the truth is He is mindful of us? His thoughts are always upon us, and all His thoughts are rooted in love. Other than that fact that God loves us, why else would He be involved in our lives? Is it because He’s spying or trying to catch us doing something wrong?
No. That’s not love. Perhaps the foremost reason why is God involved in our lives is this -
It’s called Regeneration.
That’s a theological word, so let me explain.
Regeneration is probably best understood by phrases such as - born again, made alive or being a new creation in Christ.
Regeneration is that act of God where He takes a spiritually dead and damaged person and gives him or her new life, new purpose, new freedom – He restores and renews.
Let me take you back to the beginning. God created humans in His image. We don’t fully know what that means, but we do know we were created to be like God in mutually right relationships with Him and others. We were created to be like God in holiness - or moral purity. Hence the Ten Commandments - don’t have any other gods, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, and so on.
So, we were created in God’s image, but sin, that rebellious desire to be in charge of our own lives corrupted and damaged God’s image in us so that we no longer lived in moral purity. Our right and intimate relationship with God was severed, and our relationship with others and with self was damaged. We became spiritually dead – cut off from true spirituality.
God told Adam and Eve, “If you cross this boundary, the consequence is death.” Well, like any human, they did what they were told not to do and crossed the line. Scripture is clear - one man’s sin brought death and destruction into the world.
Interestingly, people still ask the question why do bad things happen. First, if one does not believe in the God of the Bible, then it’s a stupid meaningless question. If there is no God, and all we do is live and die, then death and the manner of death is of no importance. But, as we saw last week, only fools say there is no God. Since there is a God, let’s ask the question - why do bad things happen?
Let’s go back to the beginning. Before Adam and Eve rebelled, God put them (i.e. humanity) in charge.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,
God gave them the keys if you will, and in turn, they gave the keys to the devil. They were in charge, they said, “Hey, you look like a nice guy, I really dig the horns (hang keys) - why don’t you be in charge.”
Why do bad things happen? Who’s in charge? The wages of sin is death. Sin and the devil want nothing less than our spiritual and eternal destruction. But there’s good news! In Genesis 3, after they rebelled God came to them, extended His grace and forgiveness to them and put His plan of redemption into effect. He gave what we call the first gospel – a promised Messiah who would have victory over death and take back the keys – of course, we’re talking about the Son of God, Jesus Christ. At the end of the Bible, we read this -
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
God’s plan of redemption not only included our salvation and victory over death and eternal life, but also to give new life now, i.e. to regenerate dead people.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
So why do we believe that God is personal and is involved in and cares about our lives?
God promised to regenerate and restore the broken, damaged and dead.
And He promised, all who come to me, I will not turn away.
If everyone is in some manner broken, damaged and dead, then that means we are less than our intended design.
I didn’t say less valuable. All humans - sinner or saint, born or unborn, legal or illegal, straight or crooked are valuable. Jesus loves all the little children of the world. But we’re not talking about value - we’re talking about design, fullness, potential …. God is personal and is involved in our lives because He wants us to become all that we were designed to be.
Our vision is to help people reach their full potential in Christ: physically, spiritually and emotionally. We are physical, spiritual and emotional beings and God has given us a potential to reach. What makes us think we have potential? Listen carefully to God’s Word - listen for those hints of potential and design and purpose ….
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
For we are his creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we may walk in them.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
All of that falls under the category of regeneration! God is personal and is involved in and cares about my daily life.
Here’s a summary of those Scriptures -
God has a purpose, a plan and a place for each person.
Before we individualize that too much - we must keep in mind that God’s purpose and plans and places for us are connected to the bigger purposes and plans and places of God. For example, God took an individual, Abraham and blessed the nations through His offspring. God took an individual, Moses, and rescued Israel from slavery. God took a young lady, Esther, and rescued Israel from total annihilation. He took 12 disciples and said, go into all the nations. He still does that with you and me - if we let Him. If we follow Him. If we trust Him.
So what do we do with this? How should I respond to a God who wants a relationship with me, who wants to save me, who has plans, and a purpose and a place for me …? How should I respond to a God who cares about me and everything in my life and wants to be involved in my life? How do I respond?
I could give you Scriptures about seeking first the Kingdom of God, Scriptures about surrender, submission, confession … but the truth is, I don’t know how you should respond.
For some, it’s a matter of acknowledging that Jesus is the Savior ….
For others, it’s a matter of dying to self and surrendering everything to God ….
For others, ….
So how do we respond? Let’s just ask Him.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Let’s take some time and just listen.