Thursday, April 7, 2011

these are not my words.

but they are my truth. this is taken from the end of randy's sermon this past week at midtown.

romans 8:28
"we know that all things god works together for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose." what is he saying? if you're in christ today, which i want you to hear that, because if you're new to this journey, you can be out of christ and you can be in christ. just because you come to church doesn't mean you're in christ. and if that confuses you, you need to go on the journey of answering that question. what does that mean? why did jesus come to rescue us? what did he resuce us from? but if we are in christ, if we have been rescued, what this passage is saying, that god now is working everything to your good. everything to your good.

in fact, i want to submit to you this morning that god is bound by his holiness to do nothing but work toward your good. in everything. he is bound by his holiness and his character and who he is as god to work everything in your good. see, let me explain. when jesus went to the cross, jesus took to the cross with him all of my sins. he took all the ways that i had violated the laws of god, the character of god. i am guilty of every accusation that god could possibly throw at me. and yet here i stand accused and guilty and god through jesus took all that to the cross and took that off of me.

now what does that mean? if i am in christ, meaning in christ on the cross, i died with him and then in his resurrection i rose with him, and now i'm a part of the family. and as a member of the family i am justified, meaning jesus wiped the slate clean, it's just as if i had never sinned. so when i stand before god, i stand as one that has been made pure, purified, cleansed of all my sins, i stand in the righteousness of christ, fully accepted by the father, fully loved by the father, and the holiness of god is committed to work good in every situation in my life.

see, here's what interesting about justification. jesus isn't standing before the throne of god saying, 'god, please have mercy on randy. i plead mercy, please, in all your compassion and kindness look on him, he's pathetic. have mercy on him!' that's not what jesus is doing. jesus is standing before the father in his judgment seat, and he's looking at the father and he's saying, 'father, execute all judgment on him. he deserves justice.' and what is justice? it's all been paid for. see, jesus doesn't plead mercy for me, he pleads justice for me, 'cause he paid for everything. it's already been paid for. i can't be punished for a crime twice, right? it's all been paid for. so the mercy that god gives me comes through his justice. i deserve his mercy now. that's what it means to be in the position of christ. i deserve his love now. i deserve his good now.

listen to this, later in the chapter he says, 'what then shall we say to this: if god is for you, who can be against you?' it's in the bible. it says 'he who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all.' god went to such lengths to put me in the position of favor that he gave up his own son for that. he says, if that's what god did for you, how will he not also, along with jesus, graciously give you all things. do you think god is limited now? no, god says i am working all things through the good of those who love him.

well i know what you're thinking, 'this is going on, and if i was god, i wouldn't let that happen. i wouldn't say that's good.' so either god is not good, or he has a twisted view of what good is. or something completely different. or maybe he sees what you can't see. and that's hard, isn't it? isn't hard when you're in pain and it seems like god is so far away. so when we're in that hard place, how do we step into truth that i just said? how do we speak truth into that? how do we join with david the psalmist when he says 'lord i will rejoice in you, i will praise your name, even though the enemies surround me, even though all is going against me, i will lift my face to you.' you know, plsam 3, where his own son rose up against him and was trying to kill him and overthrow his kingdom so that he could be king, he said 'lord, you are the one who lifts up my head.'

we do what it says here. we acknowledge, it says 'and we know in all things that god works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose and acknowledge his ways.' what does that mean? we speak truth into our struggle. i preach the gospel of christ into my life, i speak the gospel of christ into my friends' lives, i ask my friends to speak the gospel of christ into my life.

what would that look like? for me to say, okay, i'm going to put down the engine of creating and trying to get the power to get what i want, and i'm going to come over here and go, you know what? my deepest desire is not the senario, my deepest desire is to be loved, my deepest desire is to be in love, to be captured, to have power come and scoop me up and hold me within its hands. something that god wants to do with me through christ. so, lord, i'm going to put down my wants and my hungering, my lust for power, and i'm going to come over here in my desires and i'm going to let you meet me in this place. and i'm going to let you speak truth to me that you're working for my good.

what would that look like? one is, happiness would stop being somewhere other than where i'm at. happiness would stop being something over there that i'm constantly trying to get to, but it just seems to get further and further and further away from me. that happiness can be right where i'm at. the scriptures say, 'be still and know that i am god...' the second thing that it does is that hope stops being in something as shallow as what i want, or a situation, and goes to some place very deep. see, if my hope is in certain circumstances working out, or what i imagine in my mind coming to truth, i'm gonna live a life of constant disappointment... hope should not be so fragile a thing that it sets itself in situations that i can't make come true. hope should go to a deeper place.

let me explain: when maggie, my daughter, was 3 years old, we had one of those bongo bats... and my son and i were playing it, and she walked out the door just as he was swinging it, and he caught my 3-year old little girl right in the eye with the bongo bat, and just split her eyelid right open. so we rush her to the hospital, and she's bleeding and she's crying, she's looking up at me, and the doctor goes 'we gotta sew it shut. the danger with something like this, if we're gonna keep her awake, is, i'm gonna have a needle near her eye and she's 3 years old and it's hard to keep her still. so we're gonna wrap her up in a blanket." so they strapped her arms down and wrapped her in a blanket and they had to shoot novoicaine into her eyelid. here's the thing about maggie: she did not want to do that. she's 3 years old, she's like "please, no! don't wrap me in a blanket, i just want to go home, put a band-aid on it, and let's just go home." because as a 3-year old, she says that my hope is that this event is going to be over with, this stage of my life, could it just be over with, let's just go home. and i asked her to do something as a father at that moment, i said, "look at me maggie, take your hope out of the situation and put your hope in me. you don't understand what's going on. you don't understand why this hurts so much. you don't understand what could possibly be gained from you being wrapped in a blanket to where you can't move your arms and we're holding you still, you can't, in your 3-year old mind, you can't perceive it, but you can perceive this: i'm your father and i love you. and i'm asking you to look at me, and i'm asking you to put your hope in me, trust that i'm bigger than this situation, trust that i'm bigger than your pain, trust that i'm bigger than your fear."