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2020-04-05 Virtual Church GOD’S ANSWER TO TOUGH QUESTIONS

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GOD’S ANSWER TO TOUGH QUESTIONS (Bible) April 5, 2020 Read Heb 11:6: In Devil and the Good Lord, atheist philosopher John Paul Sartre has his hero say, “I prayed. I sent messages to heaven. Heaven ignored my very name. I wondered what I was in the eyes of God. Now I know the answer: nothing. God does not see me, God does not hear me, God does not know me. You see this emptiness over our heads? That is Go! You see that hole in the ground? That is God again. Silence is God. Absence is God. God is the loneliness of man." We’ve all been there, haven’t we? But what Sartre forgot and what we forget is that such feelings are not because God has abandoned us, but because we – as a race, and individually – have abandoned Him – and then turned around to blame Him. And yet, He has lovingly, graciously, amazingly sent His own Son to face ultimate abandonment by Him so we don’t have to. Jesus words on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me,” were spoken in our place. He’d done nothing to deserve them; we’ve done everything to deserve them. Because of what Jesus did there, we may be assured, we are not abandoned; we are not left alone; we are not without hope. So, I’d like us to see three things that we have in Christ to give us hope and comfort in times like these. I. There is a Bottle for our Tears (Psa 56:8) David was a shepherd boy, anointed king while Saul is still ruling, so David does not take the throne immediately. He does, however, kill the giant Goliath when all of Israel, including King Saul, are afraid to battle him. David goes to court and becomes a mighty warrior, killing many Philistine enemies for Saul. But Saul becomes jealous and soon David flees for his life, always just one step ahead of Saul. Then, I Sam 21:10, “And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath.” This is rock bottom. You know who was from Gath? Goliath. David’s seeking refuge in Goliath’s town. He was not received with open arms; only escaped by pretending to be insane. Despite being the rightful king and having obeyed God to the letter, he is alone, fearful and desperate. If ever he needed to know God cared, it’s now. With wavering faith, David turned to God. This when he penned Psa 56: 11) “In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” But how did he 1 get from despair to trust? The key is v. 8: “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.” The word “tossings” is “wanderings”, nod in Hebrew. Cain, after killing Abel, became a wanderer (nod) who settled in Nod. Now, David is in Nod, but comforted that God knows every nod! Now he asks God, “put my tears in your bottle.” Collecting tears in a bottle to show sympathy was a custom in ancient times. Such bottles were buried with the dead. Often professional mourners collected their tears. The word he uses for “bottle” is actually a large skin used to hold wine or milk. David is not collecting his own tears, but asking God to collect them in God’s bottle. He wants God to note every tear. The tender picture of God collecting his tears leads him back to faith. God is not the apathetic god of the Stoics and Deists or the wrathful God of Islam or the tempestuous, gods of the Greeks. He is the God who notes every heartache, shares every sorrow and collects every tear. He has a bottle for your tears. I don’t know what pain you are suffering this morning, but God does, I assure you, He has a bottle for your tears. Turn to Job 1. Overnight, this man lost his fortune in livestock – and far worse, all 10 of his children in a tornado. Total devastation! But Job 1:20, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Job’s mourning is almost majestic. No wild wailing. No “Why me?” Job simply tears his robe, shaves his head and falls to the ground in mourning and worship. Did you know that mourning can be worship? It can with a God who cares, has been there Himself! Satan’s children use razors to cut their throats when devastation hits. All they lived for is gone. But Job mourns and his tears fall, they are all gathered into God’s bottle. ALL! Dr. David Seamands, told of counseling a couple preparing for Xn ministry. As they talked, the wife, Betty, began to cry uncontrollably. Her parents had to marry bc of her impending birth. Three years later another baby was born, but her father became involved in an adulterous affair which led to divorce. Betty vividly remembered the day her father walked out. She was in her crib, heard the vicious quarrel, and was terrified when he left. Seamands asked her, “If you could have said something to your father from your crib, what would you have said?” With sobs she replied, “Oh, Daddy, please don’t leave me!” How many times that scenario has played out. But Seamands went on, “Later, as we prayed, it dawned on me that if we were to translate Christ’s cry of 2 dereliction from the cross (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”) into a paraphrase for a child, we couldn’t improve on Betty’s words. Suddenly I realized that because of what Jesus experienced on that cross, He understands the cries heard so often in our day, “Daddy,” or “Mommy, please don’t leave me!” But when they do leave, the Wounded Healer is touched with the feelings of those children.” He collects the tears, Beloved, and He understands, because He’s been there. He knows your pain! Not only that – He can help. He can comfort now, and one day, for those who trust Him, He will take all those collected tears and He will wipe them all away. He can do that because He took our place on that cross, suffered the penalty for our sin and soon, He will bring a permanent end to the suffering. We know the great promise of Rev 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Imagine! Someone has asked, “Why would there be tears in heaven in the first place?” I like Irwin Lutzer’s take: “He wants us to understand that God will give us an explanation for the sorrow we experienced on earth so that we will not have to cry anymore. If that were not so, then the tears might return after He has wiped them away. But being able to view the tearful events of earth from the perspective of heaven will dry up our tears forever.” There are answers, Beloved. It reminds me of a song I used to love. “One of these days we’re gonna understand the whole thing better. / One of these days we’re gonna come to know the reason why.” That’s a reality, Beloved. Someday we’ll see God never allowed a single pain that wasn’t for His and our greater good. Tears will end forever. But meantime, He has a bottle for your tears. He knows your pain and will bring you through. II. There is a Book for our Trials (Mal 3:16-17) Mal 3:16-17, “Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession.” The backdrop here is those who doubt God’s goodness. Mal 3:13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of 3 hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’” They’re saying, “It doesn’t pay to serve the Lord. He’ll take your youth, your money, your ambition and leave you naked. It doesn’t pay.” God responds, “Listen, don’t you worry. I’ve got every trial recorded; every sacrifice; everything you’ve given up. Worth it?! Listen, you’re my treasure! It’s all recorded; I’ve got your back!” You can’t outgive God, Beloved. Payback is coming. God describes the judgment of believers in I Cor 3:12: “ Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” Selfish acts will burn, but acts of faith will be immensely rewarded! His own resurrection is the ultimate proof of that! R. G. LeTourneau (1888-1969 was known as the “Dean of Earthmoving.” He held over 300 patents for heavy earthmoving equipment. His machines were often decades ahead of their time. 70% of the earthmoving equipment and engineering vehicles used in WWII were his. He was a devoted Christian – founder of LeTourneau U. in Longview, TX, president of CBMC and Gideon’s. I heard him speak as a teen-ager and he told how as a young man he began to give the Lord 10% of his income. But with every success, he upped the amount until by that time it was 10% to LeTourneau and 90% to the Lord. When asked how he could give so generously he was famous for replying, “I do not know. I just keep shoveling it out, and God keeps shoveling it in. I guess His shovel is bigger than mine.” That’s true for all believers. The reward isn’t always now. Heb 11 tells of how some believers stopped lion’s mouths, quenched fire and were mighty in war. But Heb 11:36: “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37) They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.” But they all got the promise eventually. It’s on God’s timetable, not ours, but God always delivers. He has a precise book of remembrance for all our trials. III. There is a Bag for our Transgressions (Job 14:16) Guilt is one thing all people have in common. Why? We’re all sinners, and whether we know it or not, we all long for forgiveness. Some, maybe you, think they are too bad to be forgiven. Albert Speer was the administrative 4 genius who kept Nazi factories running at max capacity during WWII. Speer was the only one of 24 defendants at Nuremburg to admit his guilt – a guilt he could never escape. He tried to expiate it thru books. But like a bad carpet stain, the spot wouldn’t come out. On “Good Morning, America” in 1981 the interviewer asked Speer: “You have said the guilt can never be forgiven or shouldn’t be. Do you still feel that way?” With a haunted look, Speer answered, “I was in prison 20 years. I could say, I’m a free man; I served my time.’ But I can’t get rid of it. I don’t think it will ever be possible.” That was his last public statement before he died. If he had only known. Paul said in I Tim 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” He’d persecuted Xns like dogs prior to conversion. But God saved Him. He would have saved Albert Speer, too. Why? They could work it out? No! It was because Jesus died for those sins. Job 14: 16) For then you would number my steps; you would not keep watch over my sin; 17) my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover over my iniquity.” Why do you seal trash in a bag? Cover the odor, right? So sin can be sealed away. All of it! Jesus came into the world to save sinners by His death and resurrection. The price has been paid. And when you ask He will take your guilt, seal it in a bag and cover your iniquity. Even as Xns, we live in our guilty past. Did you know that compounds the sin? Did you know it’s a sin to keep bringing up your past? It it’s confessed, it’s gone. David was forgiven adultery and murder. Peter was forgiven for denying Christ as a believer. There is a bag for confessed sin. There is a bag for your sin! God says, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more” (Heb 10:17). When you confess the same sin again, the Father says, “What sin?” Why are you remembering what God has forgotten?! Psa 103:12, “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” When the past rears its ugly head we must remember Rom 5: 20) “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Our sin has been buried under the avalanche of the grace flowing from the cross of Jesus Christ never to be brought against us again. There is a bag for your sin. Conc – An atheistic barber was riding through the slums of London with a pastor when he said, “If there is a loving God, how can he permit all this poverty, suffering, and violence among these people? Why doesn’t he save them from all this?” As he spoke a disheveled bum stumbled across the street, unshaven, filthy with long, scraggly hair hanging down his back. The pastor pointed to him and asked, “You are a barber and claim to be a good one, so 5 why do you allow that man to go unkempt and unshaven.” The barber replied, “Why, why . . . he never gave me a chance to fix him up.” The pastor said, “Exactly. People are what they are because they reject God’s help.” God has not abandoned us; we’ve abandoned Him. We want only His blessings, not Himself. But grace is available for the asking. Jesus suffered the abandonment of the Father on the cross so we don’t have to. Among the many things He purchased for us there – a bottle for our tears, a book for our trials and a bag for our transgressions. Ask for Jesus and you get them along with Him. So, whatever your trials this morning; whatever your tears, however great your transgression, this is time to turn to Him. Only trust Him, and He will save you. Let’s pray. 6
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