We have an interesting board game at our house called What’s Yours Like? Let me tell you how it works. One player is identified as the guesser. The guesser takes turn asking the others playing What’s Yours Like?
The other players answer with one adjective based on what the drawn card for the round says. Here’s the catch. The people will be talking about the same thing, but they’ll all be talking about a different version of the same thing.
For example, imagine the card says, “Hair.” Julianna says, “Beautiful.” Another one of you says, “Curly.” Another says, “Short.” I say, “Thinning.”
It’s kind of fun. You use one adjective to describe your version of the category – all the guesser has to do is identify what category is on the card.
This got me thinking. What if the card that we got was “God.” What’s your God Like? Let’s play the game right now. If you had to come up with one word to describe your God – what would it be?
Big? Powerful? Merciful? Ancient?
I. The Fractured Human Perspective of God’s Greatness
Let’s pretend we’re playing that game with King David. Take a look at his adjective in Psalm 153:3. He writes, “Great is the Lord and most-worthy of praise.”
What do you think? Is that a fair adjective to use? Is God really Great?
I imagine that here at church just about all of your will agree. In part, because we’re surrounded by the great things God has done. Partly because who wants to say in front of the pastor “He’s not all that great.” Great is a “great” adjective to use in church. Later in this very service we’re singing the song “How Great is our God!” Makes sense. You probably believe it, too.
But is that always the adjective you would use?
What about when you are surrounded by a bunch of unbelievers who will ridicule unless you use the adjective “non-existent?”
What about when you are months behind on the rent and the McDonald's buy one get one sundae coupon is all you have for your kid's evening meal?
What about when you sabotaged your relationship, you prayed to God about it and he hasn’t fixed it yet?
What about when you’re in the hospital. You’re sick. You’re dying.
What about when you’ve moved to Raleigh and feel…lost? Alone?
Is great really the adjective you’re using to describe God then?
Or is it more like:
This contrasts David’s words. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.
Granted. You might be thinking: Isn’t he kinda God’s boy? Didn’t God help him slay a giant named Goliath? Didn’t God help him become King of Israel? Didn’t God help him with military victory after military victory? If my life was like David’s, sure I’d say God is great.
But it isn’t.
Ever seen Bruce Almighty? It’s a movie starring Jim Carrey. In it, God -- played by Morgan Freeman -- takes a vacation and gives Jim Carey all his powers. What ensues is a bumbling, mistake making, slapstick hilarity. Bruce is a fractured human. He is constantly messing up while being God.
It's easy to think of God like that. A bumbling, stumbling, mistake making, slapstick comedy God. That’s because it’s all we know!
Ever seen the Geico commercial where humans happen to humans? The one human shuts the garage door on the other human's car – the one human accidently clips off another person’s car door as he opens it up. The one human hits the other human's parked card as he’s trying to parallel park.
We’re flawed. The things we do are flawed. Therefore, since it’s all we know – we assume God is flawed.
But TIME OUT! Isn’t the thing that we base the ‘flawness’ of God upon, the very thing that should cause us to question our own perception of God?
In other words – If we’re flawed, how can we trust our flawed interpretation that God is flawed?
Isn’t it, flawed?
II. The Unfathomability of God’s Greatness.
Take a look at what God’s Word says. God’s Word isn’t flawed. It says this: “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.” That’s God’s Word. It’s flawless. It should be enough to settle the argument for us.
But you might be thinking – isn’t that God’s Word? Isn’t that God saying God is great? Our flawed logic will think – why should I trust him? That’s like stopping by for a cup of coffee simply because the sign in the window says “It’s the best cup of coffee.” When you taste that three day old Folgers – you won’t be all that impressed.
1) The Father is Great
Instead of just hearing God says he’s great, listen to the great things it tells us about God. Judge for yourselves. Take a look at 1 John 5:4. "Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”
The world is exactly what we’ve been trying to overcome. It’s the flawed state of our world – it’s the flawed state of ourselves.
It’s sin. Sinful reasoning. Sinful actions. Sinful consequences. Sinful harming of one another. Sinful words leading to sinful decisions leading to sinful results. And ultimately sinful consequences. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.”
But look at who has the power to overcome the world; its sin and its death. It isn’t us! It’s everyone born of God. Everyone who has God as our Father!
Because this is how great the Father is! He is completely perfect. There isn’t a flaw in his being. He perfectly made a plan to overcome the awful nature of sin and the terrible plans of the devil. He guided history throughout time to lead to our salvation. He hatched an incredible plan that no flawed human would ever be able to engineer, recreate, or bring to completion.
The Father did what we could not do. He saved us from sin and He saved us from death. That’s GREAT!
Let’s keep reading and see why else the Father is so great…
2) The Son is Great
Verse 4 says, “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
Wait a second. That seems different. I thought we said that those who overcome are the ones who have God as their Father – born of God! This gives the credit to someone else – someone who is called the Son God.
And it’s true! Because it was the Son who fulfilled the Father’s plan. Jesus was born on earth of a virgin mother. He lived a life on this earth without a single flawed decision and without a single flawed action. (He didn’t have any sin!) He lived perfectly – which is a great feat in and of itself – but then he died innocently. In a GREAT EXCHANGE. He took on your imperfections and died for you. By faith in Him, he gives you his perfection – he releases your body from frailty (you will live eternally) and he removes from the Father’s perspective all of your imperfections. (You are forgiven.)
The Father’s greatest and The Son is greatest!?!
But – how can there be two greatests?
3) The Holy Spirit is Great!
Before you get to thinking too hard – Why don’t we let God’s Word throw one more monkey wrench into the question. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
In other words – we wouldn’t even know who Jesus is NOR would we know God’s plan for us, if the Spirit – the Holy Spirit – wasn’t involved. He’s the Truth. He speaks the Truth.
This means the Holy Spirit is Great, too! He works on our sin deadened hearts and brings them to life. He takes totally sin darkened lives and transforms them for good! He crosses cultural barriers and unites Christians together of all walks of life. He spends time and unites us together with those already in heaven.
The Holy Spirit does great things! It’s not unfair to say He’s the greatest. He’s God.
Is this just a matter of subjective perspective? It’s like trying to pick between Pizza Hut and Papa John’s and Little Caesars. They both come pretty quickly. They both taste fairly meaty. They all offer stuffed crust. Papa John’s gives pepperoncinis; but Pizza Hut has better commercials. But only Little Caesars let’s you walk in and out in less time than it takes to go to the ATM with a Hot N’ Ready to go pizza!
The Father is the great.
The Son is the great.
The Holy Spirit is the great.
But…which do we properly call the Greatest? Whom do we properly call God? Is it the Father, is it the Son, or is it the Holy Spirit?
7 There are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. There’s some interesting ways to interpret that. One interpretation is that this is a reference to the three that we just talked about. The Spirit refers to the Spirit. The water – refers to the flood – something that came from the mind of the Father himself. The Blood? That refers to our Savior Jesus Christ – who came to suffer the law breaking consequences that we deserved.
Notice what is says. All three are in agreement.
But this is about more than just three superbeings being on the same team. This isn’t the Avengers, the Justice League or the Powerpuff Girls.
The Father, the Son and the Spirit are in agreement, because they are one. Three in person. One in being. Triune God. Three-in-One.
This flies in the face of all human reason. I get it. But remember what we talked about earlier? Human logic is flawed. It’s sinful. It’s not God logic. Listen to what it says next: We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God. Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
It’s the Greatness of our Father – Holy, powerful, Creator and eternal planner; the greatness of the Son – perfect, loving, mercifully and risen; AND the greatness of the Spirit – life giving, faith producing, world changing Counselor ---- all combined into One.
III. WHAT NOW?
1) Make Him Your God.
Make the Triune God yours. Believe him. There are incredible benefits:
1 John 5:11-12 tells us about all those benefits: And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life!
Is that you? Think about this – even though the world may be tough. Even though life may be flawed. Even though things might not always feel great…
…they are great. Great because in our Triune God, you've overcome.
You’ve overcome sin.
You’ve overcome the devil.
You’ve overcome death.
You’ve overcome whatever this world can throw at you.
You’ve overcome, because God – Father, Son and Spirit!
2) Make Your Adjective Clear!
Back to the What’s Yours Like? game. As fun as it is, there is probably not a worse adjective to give than simply “great.” Because what does that really mean? Great like big? Great like awesome? Great like Frosted Flakes? If you want to win, give that adjective. It’ll confuse the guesser. If you want to be fair, make the adjective clear.
Make your adjective for God clear!
Because it's very easy for our adjectives to be unclear to others.
Daddy, you say God is great -- but why isn’t he greater than your pillow on a Sunday morning?
Honey, I know you say God is great -- but why is the sixth episode of Arrested Development on Netflix more important than a Bible study?
Friend, I know you say God is great -- why do you believe that your problems are beyond him?
Make sure that people understand who you think is the Greatest. Because our God is the Greatest – and unfathomably so.
And God? He's given an adjective for you. When the devil comes and asks Him, What's Yours Like? and his crooked, nailed finger is pointing at you...God uses an interesting adjective to describe you:
In the wake of Father’s Day, it’s always nice to reflect on fatherly wisdom. Dads teach us how to change the oil in our cars, how to open a bottle without a bottle opener, and to always brush your teeth before putting on your necktie.
I saw a Father’s Day card that said, “Happy Father’s Day Dad! Thank you for all the advice you have given me over the years. Today, I’d like to say that I’m finally going to follow some of your advice.” On the inside it read: “I’m not going to waste money on a gift for you.”
Dads are good for all kind of practical, quirky, and useful wisdom. But what about your other Dad? What about your Heavenly Dad? What kind of wisdom has God the Father passed on to you?
In the past two weeks we’ve talked about the Christian heart and the Christian voice. Today we’re going to learn about the Christian mind and the wisdom it possesses.
Our lesson comes from 1 Corinthians 1 beginning at verse 26. “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
In this paragraph, Paul is writing to a young Corinthian congregation. In the Corinthian world where many types of wisdom were lauded and sought after, Paul reminds them to search foremost for the wisdom of God.
What is that wisdom? Paul starts by identify three things it is not.
1) Christianity is not about BOOK SMART WISDOM.
Paul writes, “Not many of you were wise by human standards…”. That’s still true today. We don’t require that you get a high sore on your SAT. We don’t exclude people from the church until they’ve gotten a Bachelor of Arts degree. And we don’t hold periodic games of Jeopardy with the high scorer being written in as the next Council member.
Christianity is not about BOOK SMART WISDOM. In fact, the teachings of Christianity often go against conventional wisdom.
Today is Trinity Sunday. Do you know what Trinity means? Three in One. Today is a celebration of the fact that we have a God who is ONE and yet is three PERSONS. Three persons who are divine and distinct and yet there is not three gods, but ONE God. In other words, we are saying, “1 + 1 + 1 = 1”
But it’s more than just the Trinity. Scripture says other things that are not reasonable to the human mind.
Jesus is one hundred percent God and one hundred percent man. The world was created in only 6 days and the age of the earth is only thousands of years, not billions of years. Some guy died on a cross. And somehow, that takes away all of the punishment for my sins? If you follow Christian logic, you will fail Math, Science, and possibly Social Studies.
Christian wisdom is not about book smart wisdom.
2) Christianity is not about STREET SMART WISDOM.
Society might agree that book smart wisdom isn’t necessary for success in this world. There are plenty of people who have made it big without so much as a high school education. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg are all multibillionaires who didn’t finish college
Is Christian wisdom simply street smarts then?
Paul writes, “not many of you were influential…” To be influential in Corinthian society meant you were a business man. This was a place of the market. The better your business did the more influence you had in rules and laws that were made – even if it were simply through a few extra bucks slipped to the government.
This being said. There was no requirement in the ancient church that prospective members had to have good business sense. They simply preached the Gospel to the rich, the poor, and everyone in between.
This is still true today. To become a member of our church, we don’t have a sit down interview where you prepare a PowerPoint presentation explaining how you think we can maximize revenue and get our brand out into the North Raleigh area. We aren’t a collection of business owners. We aren’t about ‘growing a business.’ When we canvass, we don’t skip the apartments and head directly to the homes that are 1.5 million or above -- because they might have some business wisdom.
In fact, Christian wisdom is not all the smart for business. Think for a moment what might happen if you follow the following business practices in the dog eat dog American business world. “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Mt. 5:39) “Humble yourself – don’t exalt yourself.” (Luke 14) “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” (Mark 10:31) “Don’t be greedy.” (Luke 12:15)
Ever seen Shark Tank? In the show, you get a chance to pitch your entrepreneurial business model to multibillion dollar business sharks. They aren’t too kind if they think you idea stinks.
How do you think they’d react to such Christian ideals?
The point? Christian wisdom is not about influential wisdom.
3) Christianity is not about POPULAR WISDOM
Paul adds one more negation to the type of wisdom that is involved with Christianity. He writes, “Not many were of noble birth.” In the ancient world, these were princes and princess. Governors daughters and centurions sons. While this is, in part, a genealogical position, there is still a certain type of wisdom involved with being royalty. (i.e. Walk with your chin raised and always lift up your pinky finger when you drink tea.)
In America, there aren’t kings and queens as such, but we still have royalty. Musicians, actors, actresses, even reality TV stars garner our constant attention.
These pop culture icons also have their own a wisdom and culture. In fact, if you don’t follow it, you’ll never make it into Hollywood.
I’m thinking about Matthew McCauneghey winning an Oscar for best actor, thanking the Academy to raucous cheers, and then thanking God – to crickets. “Who’s God again?”
Or it leaks into our ‘non Hollywood lives” as well, doesn’t it? Popular wisdom tries to dictate our decisions.
Maybe you already knew this, but God's wisdom is not always (usually) popular.
In fact, the world might not consider Christian wise at all. It doesn’t make rational sense. It doesn’t fit into academia. It isn’t even all that popular. Some might call it (and have called it) stupid!
….That’s, the point.
Look at verse 27-29. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)
Grasp what Scripture is telling us in that section. God chose things that the world would consider foolish! God looked down at human knowledge of physics, human business sense, and human popular opinion and he chose things that were the exact opposite!
There are some very good reasons why God chose to do things in such a splendidly opposite way of human beings.
1) God is eternal!
His knowledge is way beyond you or me. It’s way beyond some Scientist who’s been alive for 40 years. It’s beyond some politicians who's lived to 50. It’s way, way, way beyond some actress who specializes in Science. Of course, his wisdom is different!
It’s like how a child and an adult tie their shoes differently. The adult carefully bends over and politely and precisely ties the shoelaces into a perfect bow. The child bends over, wiggles his fingers around his laces, and finally stuffs the knotty mess into the back of the shoes.
The adult is wiser because they’ve been around longer. God is wiser than any human being because he is eternal! He has always been!
2) God is holy.
Humans, scripture tells us, are sinful. We are selfish. We are greedy. We are hateful. We worry about ourselves.
Now think about this, it means that our collective thought process will always be sinful. It will always be influenced by this hatred. There will be traces of selfishness in every single attitude we have.
God? He doesn’t have that. This means that it will be naturally the exact opposite of human thought. And he can never support these sinful human thoughts, because then, he’d be sinful!
It’s why State fans are never caught dead into Tarheel blue. They can never support Carolina!
God can never support sin. NEVER. Yet, humans are so stupidly sinful that we look at God’s ways and say, “You’re hateful. Not me!”
3) The final reason is God chose to do things in a way that is so drastically different from human reason?
1 Corinthians reveals it to us this way, “God chose the foolish things…the lowly things…the things that are not…so that no one may boast before him.”
God knew that because of sin, not a single person would ever be wise enough to gain heaven. And he also knew that our sinfulness would affect our thinking such that we wouldn’t even acknowledge it. Instead, we find ourselves thinking, “I’m doing just fine. I’m good enough. I can figure it out on my own.”
Is it any wonder that every religion in this world, why there are shallow differences, preach the same basic doctrine? Buddhism says, “Live a peaceful life and earn heaven.” Mormonism says, “Life a like like Jesus and earn your own planet.” Islam says, “Follow Islamic Law and earn paradise.”
Why are they the same? This is the best that sinful human beings can come up with is to try our sinful best to remove sinfulness by doing sinful things.
Thank God that his plan is different:
This is God’s plan. So different and so marvelous, endorsed by all three persons in the Triune God.
What does all of this mean?
It isn’t about you. Thank God. In fact, it isn't about anyone even remotely similar than you! (Can you imagine a salvation plan enacted by a sinful human being? It will result in sinful people sinful failing to win a sinful result!)
Salvation is about Jesus, our Savior. It’s about the Father our perfect Justifier. It’s about the Spirit, our Sanctifier. Through faith in Jesus Christ, you are saved! And praise be to God for making this plan so different that it sticks out as Divine wisdom!
Otherwise, we’d be stuck in our sinful human head: “I’m awesome. I figured out God. I have the smarts to make it to heaven. I deciphered it with my decoder ring. God, of course, selected me for heaven, because of my wisdom!”
But it’s not about you. Paul said it this way, “It is because of God that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (v. 29-31)
Kids love to boast about their dads. “He’s the smartest guy I know.” He’s stronger than your dad. He was awesome at baseball. If only he hadn’t of hurt his leg, he’d probably be more famous than Babe Ruth.”
Why not boast about your heavenly Father?
“My heavenly Father is so wise he planned my salvation before the beginning of the world.”
“My heavenly Father is so powerful he raised my Brother Jesus from the dead!”
“My heavenly Father is so loving he forgives me for my sinful pride and arrogance.”
“My heavenly Father is the best. Holy. Incredible. Absolute.”
Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. Amen.
A Message from Romans 8:12-15
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Who is your Father?
I suppose there are a lot of different ways to answer that.
Some have been blessed to have wonderful biological fathers. Others have had step dads or adopted father. Still others of us have fathers that we barely even knew. In fact, we may feel more comfortable referring to grandpa or an uncle as Father.
When we say "Our Father" in the Lord's Prayer which one are we addressing? There are lots of different people in our congregation. Lots of different fathers. Even more if you consider the 'father figures' of those who will read this online.
But the truth is that in the Lord's Prayer, we are talking about none of these.
I. Know Your Real Father.
Think about the words again: It isn't “our Father, who art in upstate New York.” It isn't “Our Father, who I get to see every other weekend." It isn't even, "Our Father, whom I hope isn't so busy watching NC State that he might have some time to play a game of Uno with me.” But we pray to our Father, who art in heaven!
Who lives in heaven?
That would be God. The Almighty. The one who commands the waves and keeps the thunderstorms in line. The one who gave each and every one of us life. Our Creator not the created.
This is vitally important to remember. Because if we forget it, the results are disastrous.
1. You make sin into your Father.
Consider what a Father is supposed to be. He's a leader. He's your head. He's the one who cares for you and the one whom you are supposed to listen to.
But when we sin, aren't we really making our sinful desires into God?
"God, I know you've given me lots: life, breath, and everything else, but I'm really thinking that today's problems can best be solved by greed. I'm going to listen to him.”
"God, I know that you have wonderful gifts that you have given me for my pleasure, but I'm feeling stressed. I think that I'm going to listen to lust in this situation because I really want to feel good."
"God, I know that you love me and want me to treat others with love, but that just isn't' getting me anywhere. I think I'm going to start doing what hate tells me to do."
Look at what Paul wrote, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation," and that obligation is to listening to our real dad—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.” There's a reason Paul wrote that! The sinful nature shouldn't have any pull on us. It isn't our dad.
2. You Give your Real Father a bad name.
Maybe, you've met some kids that aren't very well behaved. Then, you find yourself doing, what you know you probably shouldn't. You judge. You think, "That dad must not be a good disciplinarian or at the very least, he must never be home." Then, you see some kids with clothes that are kind of raggedy and you think, "their parents must not have that much money." You see a kid in a UNC shirt and you think, "That poor kid! His dad has terrible taste in football teams."
What do you think unbelievers say when they see you – their 'believing' friend – talking with glee about that sexy scene in that “R” rated movie? Are they to assume that God, your Father, loves objectifying women?
What are your coworkers going to say when they hear you – the lady with the 'inspirational Bible verse' as my computer background– speaking in whispers about how coworker A is in trouble with the boss, because she's lazy and incompetent? Are they to assume that God, your Father, loves to grab a glass of sweet tea and talk about the latest gossip?
What is your family supposed to say, when they see you – a child of God – openly sinning, without any regard for what your Father in heaven says? Do they get the impression that sin isn't that big of a deal to God?
My dad was the baseball coach at my high school. He was very good. He coached teams to the state tournament. One team, to the state championship.
You could say, “Baseball was in my blood.”
You'd be surprised to find out that I'm not all that good at baseball. Namely, I throw like a girl. I won't demonstrate. Just know that it's so bad that when others have seen me throw; they are shocked. “Isn't your dad the baseball coach?”
QUESTION: Would people be shocked to learn that you are God's child? If so, we are to be ashamed! We have made sin into our Father!
3. You receive a Very Bad Gift from a False Dad.
Sometimes dads aren't that great at giving gifts. They get confused about the right colored blouse to buy their daughter. They aren't sure if they need to get the iPhone 4 or 5s for Junior. They haven't the slightest idea which cooking item their wife wants. (Hint: It's in the jewelry section.)
With sin as our father, look at all sin has to offer us: “If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die.”
I suppose you could make the argument that we receive some kind of temporary 'pleasure', when we listen to our sinful desires, but these desires don't last. The gift of death? That will last forever. Its' eternal. Fiery. Awful.
Suddenly, sin doesn't seem like so loving a Father anymore. It seems more abusive, drunken, and absent.
Contrast what sin has to offer us to our loving God.
In talking about our Heavenly Father had this thought, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" Maybe, you'll give him a bowl of oatmeal instead of some Frosted Flakes, but certainly you wouldn't pour a bunch of gravel into his Bob the Builder bowl. Not even if you were awful! Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
God's good gifts to us start the moment he connects us to his family!
There you sat. Pathetic. Messed up. Cracked. Broken. Sinful.
In walks God. He's holy, perfect, and righteous. The members of his family are holy, perfect, and righteous. In our sinful, pathetic state, how would he ever take a chance on us? Surely, he'll move on. To someone stronger. Someone bigger. Someone more like to shape up.
You expect God to walk right past us. Find the kids in better shape. Choose the perfect child and leave you in the dark corner of that orphanage.
He walks forward. You close your eyes. A tear runs down your cheek.
You hear footsteps. They stop right over the top of you.
Then, you hear a booming voice of love and confidence, "I'll adopt this one."
Look at what it says in Romans 8:15, “The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.”
Think about that! You were adopted by God. God chose you as his child!
And adoptions are expensive! There are costs for an initial interview. Costs to be evaluated both psychologically and physically. There are cost for the child, for the agent, for the child's biological mother.
It's so expensive that you might expect to set up a payment plan.
Your adoption in God's family? It's already paid for! God paid for you and me with his most priceless posession. His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ who is a complete payment for our adoption.
There is no balance left to be paid. There isn't a payment plan in place. You are completely his own!'
Paul writes in verse 16, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.” How does he do that?
Well, to prove an adoption, you need adoption papers. Something written down that says your adopted child is in fact your child.
Isn't that what this is? (the Bible) Doesn't it clearly tell us that we are God's children through faith in Jesus?
But the Spirit doesn't stop there! He works through Baptism, the holy waters of baptism, to clothe us in the righteousness of Christ, clothing perfect for those in God's family! And in the Lord's Supper, he gives us the very real promise of forgiveness through the very real body and blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. These testify to us: “It has been paid for. You are God's child.”
II. Act Like His Child.
If we God's child, then today Paul encourages us to act like God's child. In this section of Romans, there are three ways to do this.
1. Stop acting like a child of sin.
Paul says this, “If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if you live according to the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body!”
It's like a child who had an extremely abusive and awful Father. When that person grows up, a therapist might recommend that the adult completely forget the man. The goal is to completely divorce the person from the awful influence so that depression and despair don't sit in.
Do the same thing with your former father. Get rid of every semblance of sin! Get rid of every reminder of him! Stop living according to the lusts and desires of your flesh. Stop doing the things you know are wrong. Stop listening to Sin, who is no Father at all, but listen to your Heavenly Father, who loves you and made you his child through Jesus!
Remember: Sin can only offer eternal death to its family. God offers eternal life.
Need there be anymore reason to get rid of sin?
2. Cry out to your dad with confidence.
Paul writes in verses 14-15, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Abba means “dad” or “father.” It's a term that offers some kind of familiar connection to the ethereal ruler of the universe.
Think about that. We get to call the Almighty, All holy, All powerful, sin hating, God of the universe, our dad!
He is not some impersonal far off force, but a very near, a very loving God. One who holds us. One who protects us. One who whispers : “I am near. I love you.”
3. Look forward to your inheritance.
One of the special things that I own is a tie clip. It's not even real gold. It's got a picture of a tractor on it. It's chipped on the edges. To you it might not seem all that special. I don't even know how much it would sell for at a rummage sale.
But it's a tie clip that my grandpa had and gave to my Father. My dad gave it to me. It's an inheritance.
Maybe, you have an inheritance too. Some money. An heirloom. Something that's really valuable.
The inheritance God promises us?
A space in his house. An eternal spot in heaven.
Paul wrote, "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
Share in His glory!?! There is no inheritance greater.
Think back to that phrase. “Our Father, who art in heaven.” What an appropriate way to start our prayer to God. It reminds us who we're praying to. It causes us to confess our sinful disobedience. It turns us to God's promise of adoption paid for in Christ's blood. It leads us to deny sin, pray confidently, and hold dearly to our precious inheritance.
To God, our wise heavenly Father, be all glory! Amen.
Father's Day is tomorrow.
For some, it means a round of golf hitting the ball not so hard so that dad still thinks he has it. It means grilling four separate types of meat on the grill. It means taking the tour of dad's workshop (for the fourth time this year) and commenting on just how nice that birdhouse looks.
In other words, it is a time of thanksgiving for dad.
But this is not true for all of us.
Because some will spend tomorrow without any idea who their dad is. Others will be wondering where dad is. Still more will spend tomorrow remembering dad's drunken rage, his unfaithfulness to mom, even his lethargy toward being a parent.
In other words, it will be a time of sadness.
Is this the norm? Everyone celebrates Mother's Day, but Father's Day?...Divorce. Premarital impregnation and abandonment. Irresponsibility. Drug use. Alcohol abuse. These things have ruined dads. Ruined relationships. Ruined Father's Day.
This is sad.
This is sin.
But even if you won't be fishing tomorrow with an earthly father figure, please don't let Father's Day be a sad one.
Because you do have the best dad anyone could ask for.
(And I'm not talking about your earthly dad, no matter how wonderful he was...)
I'm talking about the One who is always there for you. The One who always listens. The One who always loves you. The One who disciplines, but only with your best interests in mind.
The One who saw you grow up. Who loves you at the present. Who has a wonderful future in mind for you.
I'm talking about the One who gave up the only Son who perfectly loved, listened to, and obeyed Him. The One who gave up this model child for you--his stubborn, rebellious, wayward child, the one that doesn't listen--just so that one day you might come home.
I'm talking about the One who never gives up on you. Who always chases after you. Who holds you tightly in his warm embrace.
I'm talking about God.
Your heavenly Father.
Give thanks tomorrow for any earthly father figure that you have been blessed with, but don't forget about your Heavenly Father either.
He'd love to have you chat with him. Look through the family history with you and remind you of how much he loves you.
Maybe you could even go to his house!
However you celebrate, may your day be blessed as your remember your fathers and your Father.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, Father's Day is tomorrow. For some of us it is happy, for others it is sad. Today I am reminded of the joy that I do have in having you as my Father. Forgive me for the rebellion I have had against you my heavenly Father. Thank you for always being kind, for always being loving, for sending Jesus, your son to die and rise against in order to save me. Thank you Dad for your true love. May I always reside in that love. Help me meditate on that this Father's Day. And I thank you for the father figures you have given me in this life. Be with them. Bless them. Raise them up to be true leaders, fathers who train with God's Word and love with God's love. Amen.