Waynedale United Methodist Church
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
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Jan 29, 2017 Sermon

“I Believe… God Exists, God is Personal”
2 Corinthians 13:14, Psalm 121:1, 2

Ted Jansen  January 29, 2017  Waynedale UMC

 

1.)        What do you believe?  As you look at what you believe understand that your belief shapes your attitude and causes you to behave or act in a certain way.   In other words your beliefs and your behavior are connected.  Let me offer a few illustrations. 

 

2.)        *If you believe you will live past your last day of work, let’s say at 65, and you believe that Social Security won’t be enough to pay for your living expenses you will need to save money for retirement.  This means you will have to spend less of your paycheck today, to prepare for tomorrow.  Your belief affects your behavior.    

            *If you believe that you can stay up late and not sleep much and get up early to go to your job and not be affected your belief or your behavior or both will need to be adjusted. 

When I was in college I had a job cleaning a Sears store early in the morning.  Because I lived in the dorm and had a roommate I stayed up late.  Our cleaning crew started working at 6:00a.m. and I had to carpool at 5:30a.m. to get to work. 

I believed that I could handle this even though I rarely got enough sleep.  Several times that winter I would head to the clinic because I was sick.   It seemed each time I went the nurse would ask me how much I was sleeping.  I didn’t understand why she kept asking me that. 

            Perhaps on the third or fourth time to clinic she explained that if I didn’t get enough sleep, what my body needed for rest, I would get sick.  My belief had to change for me to realize I could not live on a few hours of sleep, my body wore out and got sick.  This new belief changed my behavior.      

            *I remember when our son lived at home and had a summer job.  He also had to learn about his belief of sleep and work and adjust his behavior.  I remember him saying to me, “You know, I feel much better at work when I get plenty of sleep the night before.”      

 

3.)        We are going to explore 10 beliefs in the book, “Think, Act, Be Like Jesus,” by Randy Frazee.  I will list the affirmation of the 10 beliefs but want to lead into each with a question.     

 

4.)        Do I believe God exists

 

*Some people do not believe that God exists.  We would call them atheists.  I found a site on the internet that listed the Top 50 atheists.  I am not sure how they were ranked and why the names were listed but they do not believe that God exists. 

            Some people believe that “a” God does not exists but there are “many” gods.  We would call them polytheists, meaning many gods.  People believe in lots of gods, but not one God.  Examples of those who believe in a polytheism include those in Hinduism, Buddhism and some of the new age religions. 

           

5.)        If we believe that God exists this leads us to ask “which God?” 

We are a people who look to the Bible as our source of information and inspiration.  Who is the God that is revealed and described in the Bible? 

2 Corinthians 13:14 says, “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 

            These words are spoken by Paul at the end of the letter to the church in Corinth.  Corinth was a town where people believed in many gods and perhaps some did not believe in any god.  Here was Paul, a former radical Jew, who held his belief strongly and even persecuted those who believed Jesus Christ. 

Paul’s life was transformed by Jesus Christ and his belief changed; and so did his behavior toward Christians.  Paul was now sharing news of Christ and wanting people to follow Christ. 

Paul affirms the God of the Bible; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The God of the Bible is the Triune God, three in one, and one expressed as three. This verse expresses the Trinity. 

We know that when Jesus was baptized we see evidence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.    

 

6.)        The Trinity is the God we believe and know to be true.  We hold this mystery of the Trinity gathered at Creation when we read Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man (humankind) in our image.”    

            This Trinitarian expression affirms the unique role of Jesus as God.  Religions started after the life of Jesus have all had to include Jesus in some way.  Some say Jesus was a prophet, a teacher, a spirit.  You cannot deny the presence of Jesus Christ.  But some deny that He was divine.     

            As we think of Father, Son and Holy Spirit some people only want to believe that the “Spirit” is God.  But if you exclude the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son you have a belief of an abstract “spiritual” feeling or philosophy.  A person who believes in God as Spirit only can create all sorts of ideas.  When a person believes the Trinity you have a unique God of the Bible. 

 

7.)        So, here is the first statement from the book, “Think, Act, Be Like Jesus.”  I believe the God of the Bible is the only true God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  When you believe that it will cause you to behave in a certain way.  You will want to read more of the Bible and learn.   

 

8.)        Do I believe God is personal? 

           

            *Some people believe that God exists but is not personal.  They believe that God is detached, aloof, away, unconcerned, and uncaring. 

            Whenever there are times of suffering some question if a caring God exists.  Philip Yancey wrote a book called, “Where Is God When It hurts?”  He explores the idea of God’s presence when suffering exists.  Another book came out years ago titled, “When Bad Things Happen To Good People,” by Harold Kushner.  This also explores suffering. 

            As I think about suffering and our ideas of God a book written by JB Phillips, called “Your God is Too Small,” explores our concepts of God.  He describes concepts we have about God and here are some of them; God as the: Resident Policeman, Parental Hangover, Grand Old Man, Absolute Perfection, Managing Director, Meek and Mild, Perennial Grievance. 

            They are all impersonal in some way and not the God we know who cares for us.     

 

9.)        If God is personal and cares about my needs how do I know that?  At what point am I convinced of this?    

Psalm 121:1, 2 expresses a belief. “I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” 

            The author is bringing his need for help, his personal needs to the One he believes made the heavens and earth.  He expresses faith when he says my help is in the God who created the heavens and the earth and cares for me and my need.   

            One of my early experiences in faith was looking up at night and seeing the stars and imagining how incredible the Creator is.  Then the belief that the One who made the stars also made me, loves me and cares for me.  This has been a foundation of my belief. 

 

10.)      When I was a camp counselor in PA I talked to an elementary camper about her belief in a caring God.  She was irritated at all the mosquitoes around her and I told her God cared about her and she could tell God about her irritation and needs.  She didn’t think that God was concerned about her irritations.  She believed that God had more important things to consider.  

            I shared with her that God knows how many hairs are on her head.  It says that in Luke 12:6, 7.  “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than two sparrows.” 

If something as insignificant as the number of hairs on your head is known by God then anything personal is also known by God.  God’s love is expressed in his care.  When I shared that to this young camper it brought her peace to know that God cared for her personally.       

 

11.)      Here is our second statement of belief.  I believe God is involved in and cares about my personal life.  When you believe that you will act in prayer bringing your needs and the needs of others before the Lord.  You know that your help comes from the Lord!   We pray to the Lord!    

 

12.)      Let me tell you two stories about a boy and basketball to affirm this idea that belief leads to action (behavior). 

            David was a boy when he confronted Goliath.  What did David believe?  David believed that God would give him victory. 

            In 1 Samuel 17 we can read the entire story but we discover that Goliath was threatening the Jewish troops and they were scared of him. 

            David came from his sheep to bring his brothers some food.  He was inquiring about Goliath what was going on.  David then volunteered to go against Goliath.  He was going to behave based on his belief that God would give him victory.  They all thought he was crazy. Listen to David’s words that he spoke to King Saul in 1 Samuel 17:34 – 37. 

             “But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.  Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.”  Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

David defeated Goliath because David believed in God’s victory and behaved victoriously!

 

13.)      In 1954 the Indiana High School Championship Game was between Milan and Muncie Central.  This was what the movie, “Hoosiers” was based on, a type of David vs. Goliath game.  Milan won by two points.  I watched the last few minutes of that game on You Tube.         

            I discovered that Milan High School in 1953, the year before this epic game had played so well as a team that they reached the state semifinals.  They were a great team, they believed in themselves and this affected their attitude.  They had a great achievement the year before and went all the way to be the state champs the year after. 

            May the Lord inspire us in our beliefs and act on them.