Our Passionate God
Posted on 03/30/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** greeting ***
*** stand ***
Grace - complete healing of my uncle, Leonidas L. Torrefiel, suffering from a worsening condition of kidney malfuction, experiencing complications.
Karene - doctor discovered she has arthritis in her back. Doesn't know how bad it is yet. Will see the doctor on April 10 for an x-ray. A lot of pain, but God is seeing her through. Her son Steven is in a mental health lock down facility. Other son John is really depresed right now, we may have to change his meds, he's not sleeping well lately.
Nocturna - Please pray for me and my friends as we reach out to people at the Noah's Ark sim.
*** ongoing: Tami, Taylaa, BigJames ***
*** general prayer ***
Please remain standing, as we worship with our giving. Lord, we wish to give back to you some of what you've given us. Bless these offerings, and may they go into fertile soil and help to reach more of the harvest and advance the Kingdom of God. Amen.
Take a moment to turn around and touch one of the offering plates by the doors, as we worship God with our offerings.
*** invitation to touch pulpit for a notecard and worship with song ***
YOU SHALL GO OUT WITH JOY
You shall go out with joy
And be let forth with peace
And the mountains and the hills
Will break forth before you
There'll be shouts of joy
And all the trees of the fields
Will clap, will clap their hands
And all the trees of the fields
will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
While you go out with joy
How can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
I know it's true.
It's my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.
You are my King
Jesus You are my King
If the Son has set you free,
you are free indeed
I LOVE YOU LORD
I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear
*** hear the audio for introduction to message ***
Every single one of us has a unique perception of God. Some are closer to an accurate perception, and some are farther away.
Some of us see God as a hard, angry God who spends all of his time punishing sin and bringing correction upon those who go astray.
Some of us see God as the epitimy of tollerance, overlooking everything from sexual immorality to lying, cheating, and fleshly indulgences, so long as we try to live good lives.
Some of us see God as the arch bishop of heaven, forgiving and accepting us so long as we perform various rituals and traditions.
Some of us see God as the friend who gives us advice, but whose decisions are equal to ours in rightness and wisdom.
But regardless of where we are in our Godward perception, we all, if we are to see him as he really is, must mold our perceptions according to how he is described in Scripture, and according to what Scripture reveals about his nature and about who he is.
Since most of us can't stay here in this service night and day for the next few weeks or months solid, I'm not going to delve into the many facets of God's character, his nature, and his ways.
Today, let's focus on one particular aspect of God's nature, which is his passion and strong emotion. And I'd like for us to begin our discussion by turning to the Scriptures. Let's read from Luke chapter fourteen, verses 34 and 35.
34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!
35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'"
It would be obsurd to try reading this according to some people's perception of God, [monotone mystical voice] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets, how often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing. See. Your house is left to you desolate. [/]
As strange as that sounds, some of us in this modern age have come to view God just like that. He is always peaceful and serene. He is found in peaceful contemplation and meditation. We are distracted from finding him in the middle of passion and strong emotion, and must clear all such clutter from our hearts and minds and slip into transcendental quietude before we can connect with the divine.
But according to that perception of God, Jesus was having a moment of distraction during which he lost focus of his centeredness upon God. Which is rather hard to imagine, since he was God in the flesh, and since he claimed that he spoke only what he heard the Father speaking.
Rather, in this passage, just as in many places throughout Scripture, we see a moment of great passion, during which Jesus cries out in emotional pain, lamenting the state of Jerusalem, who he had longed to gather together in the same way a hen gathers her little ones together to love and protect them;
And in the next sentence, he exclaims, "Look! Your house is left to you desolate! And I say this fact, that you will not recognize me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
This is almost reminiscent of a man who is madly in love, and whose beloved, while already pledging her love to him, is distracted by every other thing in life, so much so that she does not even recognize him. He is lamenting, crying out to her, and declaring both his passionate love for her and the consequenses of her rejection of him.
He is not sitting in a lotus position on a rock with his eyes rolled back in his head muttering deep sayings about the continuity of life and the unity of love while he articulates the unity of all things regardless of her surface-level choices. Rather, Jesus is pouring out his heart here, passionately and forcefully, holding nothing back, but making his strong emotions clear.
We see a similar event in Matthew chapter 11, verses 20 through 30.
20 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent:
21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.
23 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."
Then in verse 25:
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.
26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.
27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
So first he is proclaiming woe upon the places which had rejected him, declaring how dreadful it will be for them in the day of judgment. And he called them by name: Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, saying that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for them.
And in the very next breath, he is thanking God for revealing the truth not to the wise but to babes, and is inviting those who labor and are heavy laden to come to him and find rest, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Either Jesus was very emotionally unstable and should have been on medication, or we might just have a misunderstanding of the nature of God. And I think you know which one it is.
Throughout Scripture, God is seen as being angry to the point of destroying entire nations, jealous to the point of turning over his people to live in slavery, compassionate to the point of moving heaven and earth to help those who cry out to him, and merciful to the point of sending his only begotten Son to die in our place, taking the blame for all our sins against him.
No, God is not the Eastern mystic [music], who is found only in the silence of the quiet mind as we lay aside any emotion or thought and quietly hummmm.... "Shhhhhhh... I think I can hear God...... He is speaking to me in a riddle, that we all should lay down our arms and accept everybody and just get along in a socialistic commune"
No, he is highly passionate, he can burn with anger, and melt with compassion; he can be enraged with jealousy, and erase our horrid past out of his mercy and kidness.
Now this is all more meaningful when we consider what he has done and continues to do for us. After all, it's one thing for a highly passive person to have unending patience with and mercy upon us; but for a highly passionate God with strong emotions to do the same, is truly amazing.
It's not that our sins don't really bother God that much, and he just says, "It's not that big of a deal, you're only human, so I forgive you;" Rather, our sins nailed Jesus to the cross. They are so vile and abominable that God turned his back on his only begotten Son when he become those sins for us on the cross.
Those who choose sin instead of grace and the world instead of the cross will see Jesus coming as a conquering warrior, and the judgment of God will be poured out upon all unrighteousness. God is not tollerant of our unrepented sins. And every single thought, action, and attitude that is contrary to his holiness will be thoroughly judged. And at the unimaginably opposite end of the emotional spectrum, those sins for which we repent and ask forgiveness have already been thoroughly judged two thousand years ago in the body of his Son, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, God incarnate, who, in his great, passionate, unending love for you and for me, came to bear upon himself the judgement of God against sin.
What amazing grace! It's not amazing to think that some transcended guru would overlook our sins and beckon us on to a great white light; but it is beyond amazing to consider that a highly passionate God who demonstrates perfect and undiluted emotion against the ugly depravity of our sins would sacrifice himself so that we could be ushered into his glory and be raptured in his loving embrace.
All of creation reveals to us various things about God, just as paintings reveal things to us about the artist. And just as paintings and music and theater and dance are all artistic expressions of human emotion, so too the creation is a grand work of art upon which all our works are based and from which they are all inspired. And they are all expressions of the emotions of God.
With this in mind, I'd like for us to close by reading Psalm chapter 104, and seeing just a few of the things these God-breathed words can tell us about the nature of God.
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty,
2 Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.
3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind,
4 Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.
5 You who laid the foundations of the earth, So that it should not be moved forever,
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; The waters stood above the mountains.
7 At Your rebuke they fled; At the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.
8 They went up over the mountains; They went down into the valleys, To the place which You founded for them.
9 You have set a boundary that they may not pass over, That they may not return to cover the earth.
10 He sends the springs into the valleys; They flow among the hills.
11 They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 By them the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches.
13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.
14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth,
15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man, Oil to make his face shine, And bread which strengthens man’s heart.
16 The trees of the LORD are full of sap, The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
17 Where the birds make their nests; The stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high hills are for the wild goats; The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.
19 He appointed the moon for seasons; The sun knows its going down.
20 You make darkness, and it is night, In which all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar after their prey, And seek their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they gather together And lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work And to his labor until the evening.
24 O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions—
25 This great and wide sea, In which are innumerable teeming things, Living things both small and great.
26 There the ships sail about; There is that Leviathan Which You have made to play there.
27 These all wait for You, That You may give them their food in due season.
28 What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good.
29 You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.
31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; May the LORD rejoice in His works.
32 He looks on the earth, and it trembles; He touches the hills, and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
34 May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the LORD.
35 May sinners be consumed from the earth, And the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!
First we see God in the perspective of his greatness over all. This says that he is clothed with honor and majesty, and he covers himself with light, stretching out the heavens as a curtain.
We read later in Scripture that the heavens will be rolled back like a scroll, and we will see God. Because of this, thinking of the heavens as a curtain reveals some things to us about God.
First, the creation, the things we see, the spendor and glory of that which God has made, the vast expanse of the heavens which seem to go on for eternity, will some day be taken out of the way to reveal the one who is behind them. As breathtaking as it may be to view the distant galaxies, and as mind-boggling as it may be to consider how tiny and insignificant we are compared to the seemingly enless reaches of the universe, They are no more than the curtains of God. They were created, and they can pass away with time; like a curtain that ages and deteriorates with time, so the heavens and earth will be replaced with the new; but God is from everlasting to everlasting, and his glory is what shines through his creation, like light through a curtain, and it is his radience that gives us that sense of wonder and awe as we gaze upon the curtains through which it shines.
Second, if the entire universe, the incomprehensible space of unfathomable size, that which seems eternal and never ending; if such endless expanse is stretched out by God like a curtain, then how incredibly big God must be! In Isaiah 48:13 we see that God stretched out the heavens with his right hand. It was he who stretched out the universe, and he did it with his hand. From one side to the next, from the dust and rocks to the light which he spread in a moment over distances that would have otherwise taken that light trillions of years to travel, the extravegant splendor of the heavens are small and insignificant compared to the one who created them and stretched them out like a curtain that some day will pass away.
With majesty and fervent passion, he makes his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. This does not say he makes them stones or mountains or crystal clear pools of waveless water, but he makes them spirits and flames of fire. He has not created us to be complacent and mentally altered, but passionate and alive, using that passion and our God-given emotions to glorify him and live the life and walk the path he ordained for us before our first day in the womb.
It goes on to say that God laid the foundations of the earth so it would not be moved, and set the boundaries of the waters so they would not cover the earth. The laws of nature were all created by God. This displays his wisdom, his amazing intelligence, and his absolute authority. All the dignitaries, kings, presidents, dictators, and great men and women of all ages can not cause the wind to cease, or the sun to not shine, or the atoms to cease to spin; they cannot stop the waters from falling to the earth and then rising once again into the skies; they cannot cause gravity to stop pulling the autumn leaves to the ground. Although foolish mankind has pridefully removed the Ten Commandments, the Bible and Prayer from schools and from the court rooms, he is completely at the mercy of the laws of God and the whispering of his voice. These men and women are weak and insignificant compared to the smallest drop of the authority of the God they both deny and claim to have conquered. God's authority is unchallengable and unescapable. And he will not compromise what is right and what is wrong just because society's moral compass changes like the shifting sand.
Our passage goes on to say that he sends the waters that give drink to all living things, and it is he who causes the grass to grow, giving food to all he has created.
Then we read that he appointed the moon for seasons, and the sun to mark the days and the activities of man and of beast. There are those who worship creation, proclaiming that it is God. There are those who claim the stars are there to guide us, rather than to show the seasons of what God has proclaimed to us in Scripture. But it is God who appointed all things to point back to himself, reinforcing, rather than dictating, what God has already spoken.
In verses 28 and 29, we see that when God opens his hand, those he gave life are filled with good. When he hides his face, they are troubled. When he takes away their breath, they die and return to the dust. And when he sends forth his Spirit, they are created, as the face of the earth is renewed. Do you realize that when God opens his hand in blessing upon our lives, we are filled with life and with good? Whether we have great earthly riches or have no earthly posessions at all, when the blessing of the Lord is upon us, we are filled with life and with good things. And when God hides his face from us, we are troubled. This is why we seek the face of God through prayer, worship, studying Scripture, and living lives that are pleasing to him -- it is because we know that our lives will be troubled without him, and we will have fullness of joy and wholeness of soul when we are right with him and are in his presence and under his blessing.
Verse 32 says, "He looks on the earth, and it trembles; He touches the hills, and they smoke." As much emotion and passion we see from God, they are only a whisper. Both his wrath and his blessings would destroy us if unbridled. But he demonstrates perfect self-control. Just his looking upon the earth causes it to tremble. His power is unimaginable. And so is his control of that power.
This chapter ends by saying, "May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!" Our desire, and the desire of God's heart, is that no one should perish, or be consumed from the earth, but that all should come to repentence. For those who have turned from their lives of sin and accepted God's grace through the blood of Jesus, they are no more. They are crucified with Christ, and are no longer sinners, but are former sinners who have been saved by grace to walk not in sin and fleshly passions, but to walk in righteousness and on the path of daily transformation, being slowly changed into the image of Christ. It is not we, but our sin, that marks us for destruction. But bless the Lord, O my soul, and Praise his holy name! He has taken our mark and placed it upon the spotless Lamb of God, who has reconciled us to God by his blood, and who has raised us up together with him so that we can walk in newness of life!
This newness of life is not something we can grasp through displays of emotion or shows of supposedly spiritual passion; but his Spirit sets us free to throw off our chains that bind us, and respond to his passion with Godly passion of our own, as we become, a little more each day, like him.
The ministry team can come to the front as we close with an invitation and with prayer.
And if you don't know Jesus today, if you have not been made right with God, stand to your feet right now as an act of saying, "I'm ready to make a change. I'm ready for a new life and to be reconciled to this God we've just described."
And right there where you are, just talk to God. Accept his gift of salvation and new life for you. You can pray along with me right now. Just say, "Jesus, I accept you as my Lord and Savior. Forgive me for my sins. Wash me clean by your blood. Make me right with God. Open your hand of blessing over my life, so I can be filled with life, and with good things. And I will follow you, all the days of my life. Thank you Lord! Amen."
This altar is open. Feel free to step out of your seats and come gather at the front. If you just gave your life to Jesus, please tell us, and we'll walk along side you. If you need prayer or ministry, feel free to instant message someone on the ministry team.
You're all invited to join us in the room to your left for fellowship, and you can go there now if you wish to carry on a conversation, but first let's gather here and pray and seek after God, seeking not after a higher state or a mental ascent, but after the true and living God, the passionate, feeling, alive, and marvelous God.