I bring up this irrational fear of being a burden because I think this is how we sometimes approach God. Think about it, God literally owns everything. The trillions and trillions of dollars in money and assets in the world, that’s his. And he can give all that without any sacrifice. But he went beyond, he gave Jesus for us which was the most costly sacrifice he could make. We know that God is for us, and able to give us all things, and yet when we come to him in prayer, what do we ask for? We ask for the tiniest requests ever.
“God, good and loving creator of the universe, please give me good grades”. No think bigger. “God, give me a house and a new car”. No, ask for more. “God, give me a partner that loves me and a good family.” No no, we’re thinking too small here! These things are good but they amount to nothing by themselves and so they cannot be the main thing we ask for. We can go much much bigger because we know that God is able to give exceedingly more than what we can ask for and what we can imagine.
Our question for today is “What is the most you can ask God for?”
The answer to our question comes from our passage today, which focuses on a prayer. It’s a prayer that apostle Paul makes as he’s in prison, and it’s one of the most powerful prayers ever prayed. What would you imagine his prayer to look like? Mine would be, “God, get me out of prison, it’s depressing”. But Paul’s prayer is 100 times more extreme.
We are all different and we all come with our own baggage. But if we can overcome our differences and unite in a deep way, we can do amazing things for God and make great friends along the way.
But there are two kinds of sin that prevent us from experiencing that deep unity and friendship. The first kind of sin is religious sin. The kinds of sins demonstrated by the Pharisees in the Bible. The Pharisees were the religious snobs in the Bible- they were condescending and thought they were better than everyone. They represent the kind of religion that everyone loves to hate.
Then, there is unreligious sin, demonstrated by the pagans of that day. These were people that didn’t follow God and they rejected his ways. Some pagans would do awful things, like abusing other human beings and destroying families.
Most of us can identify at least a bit with both the Pharisees and the pagans. But the good news is that Jesus can transform us into something new and better.
So, my big question today is: How does God transform our relationships. I want to make the case today that:
We have a God that saves people- the Bible tells us that God wants to save everyone, not just from accidents, but he wants to save everyone from sin and death so that we can live with him forever.
And as Christians, we believe we’ve been saved, but some of us may not understand WHY he saved us. And it’s important to understand why, so we can appreciate what he’s done, and so we can work with his good plan for us.
So, my big question today is, why did God save us? Our passage teaches us that God saves us because of his grace. My main points today are:
1. We are saved BY grace.
2. We are saved FOR grace.
By that I mean, we are saved because he is good to us, and he wants us to share his goodness to others.
Sometimes people mess up- they can make mistakes that haunt them for the rest of their lives. Some people feel such shame that it weighs on them every day. And perhaps you can relate on some level because everyone has messed up in some way before- everyone has made some serious mistakes.
But the Bible gives us hope. No matter what we’ve done, we find a God that still loves us and wants to restore us. The Bible also gives the necessary tools that can help us find freedom in times of regret.
So, my big question today is: How can we recover when we have failed morally?
Our Bible passage tells us, we need remorse, and restoration.
Our passage is based on the famous story of David and Bathsheba.
God is working in each and every one of our lives in these unique ways. Every one of us has a special story to tell and we’re meant to tell it.
There’s an interesting command here Psalm 107, for those who have experienced God’s salvation and God’s goodness, they are to tell their story. And for me, that raises a question. Why? Why can’t we just say, “God is good. His love is constant. Trust him.” and then leave it there and move on.
You’ve probably heard this question before. It’s a common question, and it’s an important question. People need to resolve a contradiction in their minds between a God of love and a God who almost seems to cause suffering on purpose. So it helps to be prepared to answer that question. But we also need to answer this question on a personal level. Because sooner or later we’re going to go through hard times. And it really helps to know why we’re suffering.
Our big idea today is that God makes us suffer in the short term so that he can satisfy us in the long term. My goal today is to show you this idea from our Bible passage, and I’ll also talk about some practical ways that this idea can change our lives.
Sooner or later we asked ourselves the questions “what am I doing? Why am I even here?”. It might happen in school, or in a relationship or in a career.
If you don’t find an answer, you’ll be tempted to give up or you may even become bitter at your own life. But our Bible passage today gives us an answer to why we’re here – it gives us a clear idea on why God put us on this earth. And if we can get this, we can have the right perspective on all kinds of things.
Things like why are we in school, or why are we at our job, or why are we in this romantic relationship.
So, my big idea today is that God made us for two things:
1. God made us to glorify him.
2. God made us to enjoy him.
We’ll see these themes in our main Bible passage which is Psalm 148.
I’m willing to bet that all of us have troubled thoughts, negative emotions, and unwanted feelings. And it is rare to find someone who deals with them well. Some people ignore it until it leads to a broken guitar. Some people cope with unhealthy addictions. Some just act out impulsively on their feelings.
But as Christians, we have a better way to deal with these and it’s to go to God. And God asks and EVEN PLEADS with us to come to him with our heaviest burdens.
My big idea today is, we need to go to God to be HEARD and we need to go to God to be HELPED. We see this in both the New Testament and in the Old Testament.
If our sole focus is in acquiring luxuries and comfort (the “good life”) then we will find ourselves disappointed.
We will miss out on what’s best and I can say that because our Bible passage today talks about something that’s even better. Today we are starting a new series on the book of Psalms. It’s a book of prayers – model prayers that God’s people have prayed through history.
Our psalm today is prayed by people who were figuring out their priorities in life.
These people had a choice between two lifestyles: a lifestyle based on comfort, or a lifestyle based on faith. Their story reminds us that we all need to choose between comfort and faith.
You might remember the Bible stories with the Shepherds and the angels and the baby and animals. And they’re good stories and important stories. But if you want to feel the power of Christmas, you need to look at the parts of the Christmas story that are dark and scary and sad. Because only when we bring up those parts of the Christmas story can we feel the power of the Christmas story in our own lives, especially in our own darkest moments.
So my question today is, what is the full meaning of Christmas?
I want to show you that Christmas is God’s answer to evil. Once again, Christmas is God’s answer to evil. And if we want to feel the power of the Christmas story we need to remember what is evil and we need to remember the savior.