DashHouse.com

The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

The Love of God

  • an accomplished theologian was once asked, "What is the most profound thing you've ever learned?"
  • after giving it some thought, the theologian replied, "Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so"
  • God's love for you is probably the most profound theological concept you will ever encounter
  • I can understand God's justice and holiness
  • it makes sense to me that he is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere
  • it's almost intuitive that God is good
  • but God loves me?
  • that's nothing short of staggering

  • 1 John 4:8 tells us that "God is love"
  • love is a central attribute of God's character
  • I'm going to share some facts with you this morning that have amazed me
  • these facts about God's love will lead us, I think, by the end of this message to want to praise God for his great love
  • we're going to close this message with a time of praise, and we're going to enjoy some fellowship with the God who loves us

  • FACT NUMBER ONE: GOD CREATED YOU FOR THE PURPOSE OF LOVING YOU
  • when God went to the drawing board and designed you, he did it with the express intent of loving you
  • God is the one who created you for this very purpose, that he could have a relationship with you
  • this is the purpose of your life - that you become the object of God's love
  • (Jeremiah 31:3) The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

  • (Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT) Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.

  • it's always been his plan to love you
  • I think I've told you before that my wife didn't really intend to love someone like me
  • she had a list of people she would never consider marrying, and I met almost every one of the qualities on her "don't like" list
  • she kind of stumbled on loving me; it happened in spite of her intentions
  • but it's different with God
  • God always intended to love you
  • in fact, he created you for this very purpose

  • if you want to discover your purpose in life, this is crucial
  • many people think their purpose is to make lots of money, achieve success, become happy
  • I'll tell you what your purpose is: to be loved by God
  • that's why God created you
  • before this world was ever created, God already had his eyes on you as an object of his divine and perfect love
  • you were the apple of God's eye before a single molecule of the universe came into being

  • you might ask God, "How long have you loved me?"
  • and God could reply, "Before I even made the world, I loved you"
  • and his plans haven't changed - it's still his plan today

  • it's important to realize that God didn't have to create us in order to love someone
  • John 17:24 tells us that the Father loved Jesus even before the foundation of the world
  • within the Trinity, there was perfect fellowship
  • God wasn't lonely; he didn't need to create us because he lacked anything
  • God was complete in himself, and yet he still choose to create us as objects of his love
  • for some reason, God thought it best to create you so that he could love you

  • I don't know what you're living for, but if it's money - money won't buy what's really important
  • if it's power - someone else is going to always have more power than you do
  • if you're living for any other reason than to enjoy a love relationship with God, you're missing out on your real purpose

  • THE SECOND FACT I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU IS THIS: GOD TAKES THE INITIATIVE IN LOVING YOU
  • God always takes the initiative in this love relationship
  • the simple fact is that none of us, of ourselves, would ever seek God on our own initiative
  • (Romans 3:10) As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;
  • (Romans 3:11) there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
  • (Romans 3:12) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."

  • left to ourselves, we'd be looking for love in all the wrong places
  • we all desire to be loved
  • God created us with the need to be loved, because as I said before, that is our purpose in life - to be loved by God
  • love is the crying need of the human heart
  • but we find that human love never adequately fills the need in our heart to be loved

  • all the while, while we're looking for real love, God is actively pursuing a relationship with us
  • he is relentlessly chasing us down with a divine and perfect love
  • it's probably the last place we would have looked, but the only place we'll find what truly satisfies
  • the love of a human being will never completely fill the void that is in your heart
  • only God's love can do that
  • (Jeremiah 31:3) The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
  • (John 6:44) "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

  • think about it: God came after Adam and Eve in the garden
  • he came to Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the prophets
  • Jesus came to each of the disciples and chose them to be with him
  • he came to Paul on the Damascus road
  • and he comes to you in Etobicoke relentlessly seeking you out

  • God not only took the initiative in creating you and sending Jesus Christ, but God's love continually seeks you out even today
  • if you are running away from God, his love is still pursuing you
  • if you ever want to be encouraged, read Luke 15
  • Jesus tells three stories with the same message so that we don't miss his point
  • the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep which are safe in the fold, just to pursue one missing one - just one, ordinary, non-spectacular sheep
  • the woman who has lost one coin searched diligently for it
  • the father of the prodigal son kept constant watch for his missing son, and took the initiative in welcoming him back
  • it's as if Jesus says, "I'm not going to tell you once; I'm not going to tell you twice; I'm going to tell you three times - God loves you so much that he takes the initiative in searching you down with the express purpose of loving you
  • I love you so much that I'll leave ninety-nine others to come after you
  • if you ever get lost, I'll search until I find you
  • if you ever willingly wander away, I'll wait patiently until you return
  • and when you do come back, I'll throw my arms around you and throw you the biggest party you can imagine

  • God created you to love you
  • he takes the initiative in pursuing a relationship with you
  • and here's the third fact
  • GOD'S LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL
  • God's love is not tied to the worth of the person being loved
  • if God's love was dependent on us being deserving of that love, then none of us would be loved at all
  • if God's love depended on our goodness, we would be in a very tenuous position
  • but the Bible says:
  • (Romans 5:8) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

  • we know that God intensely hates all sin
  • it's therefore all the more amazing that God could love us so much that he could see past our sin and die for us
  • Romans 5:8 tells us that God loved us in spite of our status as sinners, and do you know how he demonstrated this love?
  • "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us"
  • God has chosen to love mankind - not only people we would call good, but God has also chosen to love sinful men and women
  • (1 John 4:10) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
  • (John 3:16) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  • the Bible teaches us that Christ's death on the cross is the ultimate expression of his love
  • God loved sinners so much that he left heaven to live in a sin-contaminated, stench-filled environment
  • if you remember how intensely God hates sin, you understand how hard it must have been for Christ to leave heaven for an environment filled with unrighteousness
  • he lived a perfect life, and submitted to, without exaggeration, the most awful death you could imagine
  • his back was scourged with whips of metal and bone that ripped his flesh right off
  • they drove spikes through his wrists and nailed him to a cross
  • the placed his feet one on top of the other, and a third spike was driven through the two feet and into the wood
  • he suffered unbearable pain
  • as the saying goes, "I asked Jesus how much he loved me. He stretched out his arms and said, ‘This much" - and died"
  • that's how much Jesus loves you
  • the cross is the ultimate symbol of God's love for you and for me
  • while you were still a sinner, without even the smallest amount of interest in God, he loved you with a perfect love
  • you don't deserve it, but God loves you anyway

  • a father was tucking in his six-year-old son for the night
  • the father asked him, "Son, when does Daddy love you the most? When you've been fighting with your sister and getting into a lot of trouble? Or when you're been really helpful to Mommy and real nice to everyone?"
  • the son thought for a minute and said, "Both times!"
  • "Right," the father said, "and do you know why?"
  • "Cause I'm your special guy," replied the boy
  • that was his dad's pet name for him - "Daddy's Special Guy"
  • the boy knew that his father loved him, no matter what, because he was "Daddy's Special Guy"
  • and friends, God loves us the same way
  • he loves us unconditionally because we're his "special guys"

  • you might feel like you don't deserve God's love
  • I'll tell you something - you're right
  • you don't deserve God's love
  • but he has decided to love you anyway, with a love that doesn't depend on your goodness
  • God's love does not need to be earned
  • if it did, he would have stopped loving us long ago

  • fact number four about God's love:
  • GOD'S LOVE WILL NEVER GIVE UP
  • have you ever invented a word because the right word just doesn't exist?
  • when translators gathered in 1611, they had to invent a new word to translate one of the most beautiful words in Hebrew
  • the original word, hesed, had many meanings: not only love, kindness, mercy, and loyalty, although those are alright
  • the word has a sort of stubbornness about it
  • a love that will endure through good and bad; a covenant sort of love; a promise to remain loyal to a friend
  • they created a word, "lovingkindness"
  • other translations have used the words "steadfast love" or "unfailing love"
  • a love that never gives up
  • (Psalms 63:3 KJV) Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
  • (Exodus 34:6 NLT) I am the LORD, I am the LORD, the merciful and gracious God. I am slow to anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness.

  • that's what God's love is like
  • it's the long, stubborn love of God
  • in hesed, God stays faithful to us long after we have forfeited the right to remain in covenant with him
  • it's God bonding with his people, and refusing to give up on them
  • it's the sort of love that causes Paul to say:
  • (Romans 8:38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
  • (Romans 8:39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • God's love is a love that will not separate
  • God may discipline us, but he will never leave us
  • his love is so stubborn that it will never let us go

  • one last fact about God's love:
  • GOD WANTS YOU TO LOVE HIM BACK
  • one of the most amazing facts in Scripture is the idea that just as God gives of himself to love us, so God desires us to return that love and bring joy to God's heart
  • (Isaiah 62:5) As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.
  • the God of the universe, who created all things and needs nothing, actually rejoices when we love him back

  • what's more, God desires a relationship with us, not in a slave/master relationship, or an employee/employer relationship, but as friends!
  • Jesus said:
  • (John 15:14) You are my friends if you do what I command.
  • (John 15:15) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
  • in just nine verses in John 15, Jesus uses the word love in either noun or verb form nine times
  • that's the sort of relationship God desires with you

  • the command to love God and love others is the summary of all other commands in the Bible
  • (Matthew 22:37) 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
  • (Matthew 22:38) This is the first and greatest commandment.
  • (Matthew 22:39) And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
  • (Matthew 22:40) All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
  • God wants you to love him

  • friends, what an amazing doctrine!
  • God takes the initiative to pursue a continuing relationship with you
  • more than anything else that you might do, God wants you to love him with your entire being
  • that's why you were created
  • he loves you with a stubborn, steadfast love that will never let you go

  • we're going to conclude this message in the only way I can imagine: by responding to this amazing truth by worshiping God
  • let's pray, and then join ourselves together in a period of worship to praise God for his great love

Adapted in part from Our God is Awesome by Tony Evans

The Justice of God

  • in his excellent book Our God is Awesome, Tony Evans asks some pointed questions:
  • what would you say about a father who failed to warn his children of impending danger?
  • what would you say about a friend who saw you going down a dangerous road and knew disaster awaited you at the other end, yet he made no attempt to stop you?
  • how about a doctor who knew you had a life-threatening illness, but simply told you to take two aspirin, go home, and rest?
  • suppose a police officer saw smoke rising from your roof, or witnessed burglars breaking into your home, but never tried to alert anyone?

  • and then Tony Evans asks just one more question:
  • what would you say about a pastor who told you about God's love and forgiveness and patience, but never warned you of his wrath?
  • I'll give you his answer: "That pastor would be doing you a great disservice"

  • this morning I'd like to examine one of the less popular characteristics of God: his justice
  • the basic definition of God's justice is simple, and at first glance, not too disturbing: God always does what is right
  • God is just
  • let me begin with presenting the positive side of God's justice, and then let us look at the other side as we examine God's attitude toward sin

  • BUT FIRST THE GOOD NEWS
  • God is just
  • he always does what is right
  • in fact, so many passages in the Bible call God righteous, it's hard to know where to begin
  • (Psalms 11:7) For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.
  • (Psalms 119:137) Righteous are you, O LORD, and your laws are right.
  • (Psalms 111:3) Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.

  • God's justice means that every decision God every makes is a good and right decision
  • furthermore, every single law that God has ever spoken into existence is a good law
  • (Psalms 19:7) The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
  • we can have confidence that even though we might not understand God, everything that he does is right
  • as Abraham says in Genesis 18:25:
  • (Genesis 18:25) Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

  • I love talking about this part of God's justice, because it means that God plays fair
  • as Bill Hybels says:

    God isn't swayed by the color of our skin, the size of our office, or the amount of our tithe check. His laws are "equal opportunity" and apply across the board. There is no discrimination, and no affirmative action either - just all-around, perfect righteousness. Every law protects us from harming ourselves, from harming or being harmed by others, or from squandering our lives and eternities. Each one emanates from an inherently righteous core and applies the same regardless of our gender, our age, our religious affiliation, or our heritage.

  • Moses could say of God:
  • (Deuteronomy 32:4) He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
  • God is holy and just, and he only does what is right
  • it would be very comfortable to stop here, but there's the flip side to this
  • and I wouldn't be a very good pastor if I didn't give you the full story

  • THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY IS THIS: GOD INTENSELY HATES SIN
  • God loves all that is right and good, and everything that conforms to his character
  • but let's be honest and say that God hates everything that is opposed to his moral character
  • God hates sin

  • this begins to get a bit troublesome, because it affects you and me
  • God intensely hates all sin
  • because of his own righteousness, and the justice of his law, God must judge sin
  • there's no way around it
  • the Greek word for wrath indicates God's displeasure at sin and his judgment against it
  • don't go thinking that God throws temper-tantrums, or blows up like we do, but make no mistake about it: God is angry against sin
  • against big sins and little sins
  • all sin is repulsive to him

  • did you know that God hates sin?
  • his hatred of sin is intense and perfect
  • he can't stand sin
  • Psalm 5:4-6 says:
  • (Psalms 5:4) You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.
  • (Psalms 5:5) The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.
  • (Psalms 5:6) You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors.

  • the idea of God's wrath appears over and over in the Bible; you just can't ignore it
  • (Nahum 1:2) The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.
  • (Nahum 1:6) Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.

  • many people mistakenly think that God is a God of judgment in the Old Testament, and a God of love in the New Testament, but never changes
  • the New Testament speaks over and over again of God's wrath:
  • (John 3:36) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
  • (Romans 1:18) The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
  • God hates sin

  • let's explore the idea of God's wrath a bit further
  • THE FIRST THING WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT GOD WOULDN'T BE JUST IF HE WASN'T ANGRY AT SIN
  • are you sickened when you hear of men who beat their wives?
  • are you outraged when you hear about children who are molested?
  • what about when someone preys on the elderly and robs them of their life savings?
  • if we're outraged when we see injustice, imagine what goes on in the mind of an intrinsically righteous God!

  • part of God's justice is that he hates evil
  • (Psalms 45:7) You love righteousness and hate wickedness.
  • one aspect of God's goodness is the positive that God does
  • but the other aspect of God's goodness is his negative reaction to evil
  • and that makes God just
  • God wouldn't be just if he wasn't outraged at sin

  • WE ALSO NEED TO UNDERSTAND HOW GOD REACTS TO SIN
  • (Romans 11:22) Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
  • if your theology doesn't include both the kindness and sternness of God, your theology is lacking
  • if you don't think that God negatively reacts to sin, just because God is kind and patient, you don't understand God
  • you haven't read the Bible!

  • when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they got booted out of the Garden
  • God destroyed the whole world with a flood in the days of Noah because of sin
  • God sent fire and brimstone on Sodom of Gomorrah because of the sickening sin of those cities
  • God sent plague after plague on the Egyptians
  • when Israel sinned, he said to Moses:
  • (Exodus 32:9) "I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people.
  • (Exodus 32:10) Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation."
  • when Jesus bore the sins of the world, God unleashed the fury of his eternal wrath on his only Son
  • if God's sinless Son didn't even escape God's wrath, we had better take this seriously!
  • (Psalms 7:11) God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.
  • every time we think an evi l thought or do an evil deed, God's anger is kindled because he is so perfect, he must react to unrighteousness

  • God's wrath is not only present today, but he is storing up his wrath for eternity:
  • (Romans 2:5) But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
  • the Bible over and over speaks of coming age, when God will finally and decisively display his wrath at sin
  • it teaches that the wicked will enter into conscious, eternal punishment, suffering far beyond any experience of misery found in this world
  • the Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness, a lake of fire, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of eternal separation from the blessings of God, a prison, a place of torment where the worm doesn't turn or die
  • and it's eternal
  • "If you emptied the Pacific Ocean, the largest body of water in the world, and piled it full of sand as high as Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, you would have a pretty big sand pile. Now suppose you got a bird and trained it to pick up one grain of sand every million years. How long would it take that bird to empty that sand pile? A long time. We probably don't have numbers to count that high.
  • "But guess what? When that bird has picked up that last grain of sand, you will have only spent your first second in hell. That's what I call an eternity!" (Tony Evans)

  • nobody likes to think about these things
  • I'd be lying if I said it didn't break my heart
  • as the Bible says:
  • (Hebrews 10:30) For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people."
  • (Hebrews 10:31) It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

  • but like all God's attributes, we should be thankful for his justice
  • viewed alone, it's hard to be thankful for his justice and wrath, but what would God be like if he were a God who didn't hate sin?
  • he would either be a God who either delighted in sin or wasn't troubled by it, and such a God wouldn't be worthy of our worship

  • BUT I'VE LEFT OUT THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT GOD'S WRATH, AND THAT'S HIS PATIENCE
  • (Psalms 103:8) The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
  • (Psalms 103:9) He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
  • (Psalms 103:10) he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
  • in fact, the very reason that God has not executed his wrath upon evil is because he is waiting so that more people can escape his wrath
  • (2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

  • God doesn't come out of nowhere and lower the boom on unsuspecting people
  • God is long-suffering - holding back for a lifetime what we truly deserve
  • you see, justice is getting what we do deserve
  • but mercy is not getting what we do deserve
  • and God is showing us his mercy

  • the good news is that God has allowed a substitute to bear the weight of God's wrath in our stead
  • Jesus took all of our sins, our rebellion, and our guilt, and paid for everything at Calvary
  • all sin had to be punished, or else God wouldn't be God
  • God has delivered us from the wrath of God through Jesus Christ:
  • (Romans 5:8) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • (Romans 5:9) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!

  • a young man in Germany in 1505 had obtained his M.A. degree and had commenced further studies in law
  • in spite of his education, he was depressed
  • his sin troubled him and he was frightened of dying, for he knew that he would have to meet God as judge
  • Martin Luther knew that God was holy and also angry at sinners
  • his heart sank at the prospect of death, because he knew he deserved to go to hell
  • so how could he get in God's good graces?
  • how could he avoid hell?
  • that was his big problem

  • after half a term of studying law, Luther returned home for a brief holiday
  • on his return to college, he was walking along a lonely country road when a dreadful storm broke out
  • the young man was frightened, especially after lightning threw him to the ground
  • he prayed in fear
  • he was so scared that he vowed he would become a monk if God spared his life

  • well, his life was spared and he became a monk, and more earnestly searched for God and salvation
  • after a few months, he realized that he had failed to satisfy God at every point despite a strict religious life
  • ‘I was a good monk," he said, "and I kept the rules of the order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery, it was I. If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with vigils, fastings, prayers, and readings"
  • as he read the Bible, God began to show him that Jesus Christ alone had kept the law of God on our behalf and suffered the punishment for sinners when he died on the cross
  • at last, he found peace with God through trusting in Christ
  • he knew now that his sins were all forgiven through the Lord Jesus Christ

  • no, not even Luther deserved to be forgiven by God
  • he was a sinner like ourselves
  • but God is wonderfully kind and merciful towards us all
  • he offers a free pardon to hell-deserving sinners
  • (1 Peter 3:18) For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
  • but God's patience will one day run out, which is why the Bible says in Hebrews 4:7-15 that today is the day of salvation

  • one final story:
  • in 1829, a Philadelphia man named George Wilson robbed the U.S. mail and killed someone in the process
  • Wilson was arrested, brought to trial, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged
  • some friends intervened on his behalf, and were finally able to obtain a pardon for Wilson from President Andrew Jackson

  • when informed of this, Wilson refused to accept the pardon
  • the sheriff didn't want to carry out the sentence: how could he hang a pardoned man?
  • an appeal was sent to President Jackson
  • perplexed, he turned to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the case
  • Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that a pardon rejected is no pardon at all
  • George Wilson would have to face his sentence
  • Wilson was hanged, although his pardon lay on the sheriff's desk

  • God forbid that at the judgment, anyone here will have to bear the full weight of God's wrath because they turned down the pardon, freely offered by God to you, that's sitting before him right now!
  • let's pray

Adapted in part from Our God is Awesome by Tony Evans

The Goodness of God

  • there are some songs that are so simple, and yet so profound, that it would take a lifetime to unpack them
  • I'm going to sing one right now, hoping that you'll join in:
  • God is so good; God is so good; God is so good; He's so good to me.
  • I counted, and there are seven different words in this chorus, none of them over a syllable
  • it's hardly a difficult song to understand
  • and yet, have you thought about what it means?

  • (Psalms 119:68) You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
  • over and over in the Bible you read about the goodness of God
  • you might never have thought about the goodness of God, so I'm going to do it for you
  • let's discuss four important truths about the goodness of God

  • important truth number one is this:
  • GOD SETS THE STANDARD OF GOODNESS
  • anyone here like good food?
  • in an audience like this, I thought so!
  • who here thinks fried chicken is good food?
  • what about filet mignon? sushi? haggis?
  • that's the problem in describing "goodness"
  • who decides what's good and what isn't good?
  • good according to whom?

  • a rich young ruler once approached Jesus and said:
  • (Luke 18:18) A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
  • and Jesus answered:
  • (Luke 18:19) "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.
  • Jesus knew that the man needed a quick theology lesson
  • he didn't realize who he was talking to
  • and Jesus informed him - and he informs us - of an important fact
  • no one is good except for God
  • Jesus could very well have said, "I'm either no good or I'm God, because only God is good"
  • in other words, everything that is good finds its source in God
  • God is the ultimate standard of goodness

  • who decides what is good?
  • God does
  • God is the one against whom all things are measured against; he's the ultimate standard of goodness

  • I'll put it simply: God is good
  • who says so?
  • God does
  • what makes God the final arbiter of goodness?
  • God does
  • because there's no higher standard of goodness than God, we can measure all things against him

  • that's one of the problems with human beings
  • we think we're pretty good, but who do we measure ourselves against?
  • we rationalize that we're pretty good people, as opposed to those who kill people
  • but that's the problem: God doesn't measure us up against Hitler or Paul Bernardo
  • he measures us up against himself, and we all fail the test
  • (Romans 3:23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  • nobody measures up to the standard
  • I might be good some of the time, but let me tell you: there are lots of times when I'm not so good
  • my goodness might look impressive to another person, but my goodness doesn't impress God very much
  • Isaiah 64:6 says, in the New Living Translation:
  • (Isaiah 64:6) We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away.

  • you have a goodness problem
  • God's good and you're not
  • it's what we call sin, and the only known cure is forgiveness through Jesus Christ
  • Romans 3:24, the next verse after the one that says that we all fall short of the glory of God, says this (New Living Translation):
  • (Romans 3:24) Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.
  • (Romans 3:25) For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.
  • God has solved our goodness problem, by transferring Christ's goodness to our account
  • if you believe in Jesus Christ, and come to him in faith, your problem is solved!

  • I'll say it again: God is the ultimate standard of goodness
  • that's truth number one

  • truth number two is this:
  • EVERYTHING THAT GOD IS AND DOES IS GOOD
  • even the most patient person sometimes becomes impatient
  • even the kindest person occasionally loses his temper
  • that's because we all have dark sides - we're not consistent
  • but God is different
  • everything that God is, and everything that God does, is good
  • (James 1:17) Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
  • God never changes
  • with him, there is no "shadow of turning"
  • there's no evil in God - never even a hint of darkness in him
  • God is not only good, he's consistently good
  • God doesn't know how to be anything but good

  • God is so unlike us
  • God can't be improved upon
  • there are no defects in his personality
  • he doesn't need to improve his character or smooth out his flaws
  • God is perfect in every detail - impeccably perfect
  • we could spend weeks talking about everything that is good about God - his love, his patience, his mercy, and his grace
  • everything about God - everything he is and everything he does - is good and perfect
  • that's truth number two

  • the third truth is equally important:
  • EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD COMES FROM GOD
  • I'll read James 1:17 one more time:
  • (James 1:17) Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
  • I want you to think of something good for a minute
  • it could be anything: the most beautiful sunset you have ever witnessed, the most fragrant smell, the best-tasting food
  • think about the richest color you've seen, or the most pleasurable experience you can think of
  • James 1:17 tells us that God is the source of all good in the world
  • everything good that you can think of comes directly from God
  • if something isn't good, it didn't come from God

  • the problem is, we attribute a lot of good things to Satan when they are properly attributable to God
  • there's no such thing as a decadent chocolate cookie, or something that's sinfully delicious
  • that's giving Satan credit for something that is good
  • God is the author of our taste buds, and the richness of the foods that we can enjoy
  • Satan didn't invent good things - God did!

  • for too long, we've let people think that Satan created the world of sexuality
  • but listen: Satan didn't design us as sexual beings, God did
  • every good thing you can think of comes directly from the hand of God
  • he is the author - he is the one worthy of praise

  • what's more, God's intention is for us to enjoy what he has created
  • listen carefully to 1 Timothy 4:1-5:
  • (1 Timothy 4:1) The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
  • (1 Timothy 4:2) Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
  • (1 Timothy 4:3) They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.
  • (1 Timothy 4:4) For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
  • (1 Timothy 4:5) because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
  • do you understand what Paul is saying?
  • it's a sin not to enjoy the goodness of God!
  • everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving
  • one author says:

"Where does it say that sinners get to have the most fun? Many of us were raised to think that when you become a Christian, you enter a boring existence while sinners enjoy all the good stuff. That is a doctrine from hell. It's a demonic doctrine that says to be a Christian is to love an empty, boring, purposeless, and dull life of denial. It's false because God says, ‘Everything that I created is good and meant to be enjoyed by those who know the truth.'" (Tony Evans)

  • as Christians, we ought to enjoy nature more than unbelievers
  • we ought to have deeper relationships
  • when we sit down to eat a meal, we should enjoy it more than those who don't know God
  • we should appreciate flowers and sunsets more
  • we should enjoy creation more than anyone else because we know the creator
  • it's a flat-out lie that Christians can't enjoy things, because every good thing comes directly from God!

  • God provides wonderful things for even the unbeliever to enjoy
  • (Matthew 5:45) He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous
  • you don't have to be a Christian to get rained on
  • God has ordained that some of his benefits get shared with atheists as well as his own children
  • but certain aspects of God's goodness can only be appreciated by believers
  • (Psalms 84:11) No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
  • (Romans 8:32) He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
  • Jesus said that our heavenly Father will "give good things to those who ask him" (Matthew 7:11)
  • that's God's inclination - to give good gifts to his children
  • as a Christian, you can enjoy God's goodness in ways not even imagined by the unregenerate
  • that's the third truth about God's goodness - every good thing comes from God

  • there's one more truth I'd like to communicate:
  • GOD'S GOODNESS TRANSCENDS THE NEGATIVE
  • God is so good that his goodness transcends all that is negative
  • you don't have to be a genius to realize that there are a lot of negatives in the world
  • we could all list things that are wrong with our lives and the world
  • we might ask, "If God is so good, why is there so much that is bad in the world?"
  • that's a tough question, but ask yourself: who brought the bad into the world?
  • it certainly wasn't God
  • imagine if you had your house all clean, and then had people come in and mess it all up
  • it's still a good house, but it's a mess because of the guests who have invaded it
  • that's what this world is like
  • it was completely good when it came from God's hand, but it's been contaminated by sin - our sin
  • and that sin has introduced many bad things into the world

  • the real miracle is that God's goodness transcends all the bad in the world
  • that well known verse, Romans 8:28, says:
  • (Romans 8:28) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
  • God's goodness is such that even when bad things happen, a good God transcends these bad things and ultimately works something out that is to his glory and our benefit
  • the real miracle is this - God is able to take the bad things that happen to us, and bring eternal good out of them

  • Paul continues in Romans 8 by asking:
  • (Romans 8:38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
  • (Romans 8:39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Paul says that when tribulation, distress, persecution, or famine, nakedness, peril, and sword come along, we're still overwhelming conquerors
  • even when bad things happen to us, we still triumph because of God's goodness

  • if God is able to make everything that happens to us work together for our good, then ultimately everything that happens to us is good
  • for the believer, ultimately there are not tragedies, because in the long run - ultimately - everything is for our benefit
  • if you are a believer in Christ, the great news is that God's goodness transcends anything negative that might be in your life

  • when we understand God's goodness, we don't focus on the negatives in our lives
  • we're so filled with gratitude for God's goodness that we forget what we lack
  • one day a Puritan sat down to a meal of bread and water
  • most of us would grumble, "God, what is this? I've only got bread and water"
  • but this Puritan looked down and said, "Bread and water and Jesus Christ too! What more can a man ask?"

  • God is good
  • (Psalms 34:8) Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
  • it's not enough to believe that God is good
  • I invite you to begin tasting God's goodness
  • experience it for yourself
  • God is saying, "Try my goodness - I know you'll like it"
  • as we grow in Christ, we increasingly learn how good and kind he is
  • we experience it for ourselves
  • (Psalms 37:4) Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  • this morning I invite you to delight yourself in God and his goodness to us

Adapted in part from Our God is Awesome by Tony Evans

The Omniscience of God

  • an older man once summoned his courage, and asked an older lady to marry him
  • he was thrilled when she answered, "Yes"
  • the next morning, however, he had to phone her
  • "I remember asking you to marry me," he said, "but for the life of me, I can't remember what you said"
  • "I'm so glad you called," she replied. "I remember saying yes to you, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember the question!"

  • human knowledge and memory is very limited indeed
  • last week, someone reminded us that we forget 95% of what we hear after 72 hours
  • I'm going to illustrate how limited our knowledge is by giving you a little quiz
  • and don't worry - it doesn't have to do with last week's sermon!
  • let me give you a series of letters and numbers, and ask you to remember and repeat them after a few seconds:
  • I'll go slowly: W P C 4 F T G I C W T 5
  • okay, can anyone here repeat the twelve letters and numbers I just gave you?
  • psychologists tell us that at a given time, we are only able to load and store seven items in our memory, give or take two
  • I think you'll agree that a memory capacity of five to nine items is a very limited memory capacity indeed!

  • we also have problems with retrieval
  • have you ever experienced "the tip of the tongue" phenomenon?
  • and in this age of information explosion, we all recognize that no single person is capable of knowing even a small percentage of all there is to know
  • we're often forced to rely on someone else's knowledge
  • for instance, when you go to get a prescription filled, you depend on the fact that the pharmacist knows what he's doing and that he doesn't confuse medicines
  • we wouldn't know
  • when we get on an airplane, we're trusting that the pilot knows how to fly a plane - or else we're in trouble
  • we're banking our lives on someone else's knowledge, because ours is so limited

  • and that's where God comes in
  • we've already looked at God's omnipotence (his unlimited power) and God's omnipresence (God's presence everywhere), and now it's time to look at God's omniscience (his unlimited knowledge)
  • let me tell you: God knows all things
  • there is absolutely nothing that God does not know
  • there is no database or library outside of God's knowledge
  • and God never has to rely on anyone but himself for knowledge

  • I'd like to tell you four things about God's omniscience
  • if we understand these four things, we will have a greater sense of confidence as we live
  • the first thing is this:
  • GOD'S OMNISCIENCE IS UNLEARNED
  • it's intuitive
  • in Isaiah 40:13-14, the prophet reminds us of a crucial piece of information:
  • (Isaiah 40:13) Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor?
  • (Isaiah 40:14) Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?
  • let me say it plain: where did God go to school?
  • nowhere!
  • God never had to read, study, and analyze
  • God never had to learn what he knows
  • God's omniscience is unlearned!

  • you're looking at someone who's attended school for twenty years of his life
  • the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know
  • but with God, everything that can be known, everything that has ever been known, and everything that will ever be known, God already knows
  • God's knowledge never changes or grows
  • if God ever had to learn something new, it would mean that he wasn't omniscient before
  • from all eternity, God knew everything

  • Tony Evans writes:
  • "All the information in all the libraries of the world; all the data on all the computer chips in the world, including all the chips that have not yet been made; all of this data, God knows completely right now. Because he is infinite, 'His understanding is infinite' (Psalm 147:5)"

  • not only is God's omniscience intuitive or unlearned,
  • GOD'S OMNISCIENCE IS COMPREHENSIVE
  • the writer of Hebrews said this:
  • (Hebrews 4:13) Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

  • one of the things that amazes me about God is that God fully knows himself
  • nobody knows themselves completely, except for God
  • this is especially remarkable, because God's own being is infinite or unlimited
  • it takes unlimited knowledge to fully know an unlimited being
  • Paul writes to the Corinthians:
  • (1 Corinthians 2:10) but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
  • (1 Corinthians 2:11) For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

  • God knows every detail
  • Matthew 10:30 tells us:
  • (Matthew 10:30) And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
  • for some people, that's an easy count
  • but think about it: if God knows something as trivial as your hair count, he also knows your feelings, desires, personality
  • he knows everything about you comprehensively

  • (Proverbs 15:3) The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
  • as we noticed last week, God is in every place, and he sees everything that goes on
  • there is nothing hidden from God

  • Jesus also tells us in Matthew 10:29
  • (Matthew 10:29) Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.
  • a preacher once said, "God is the only one who attends a sparrow's funeral"
  • according to Psalm 50:11, God knows every bird and creature
  • that's unlimited knowledge!

  • Psalm 147:4 says that every star in every galaxy has been numbered and named by God
  • Psalm 139:12 says that day and night are alike to God - he sees all
  • Psalm 90:8 reminds us that our secret sins - those sins we try to keep hidden from others - are known to God
  • nothing is hidden from his presence or knowledge

  • in the beautiful "omni-psalm" of David (Psalm 139: the psalm that mentions both God's omnipresence and omniscience), David writes:
  • (Psalms 139:1) For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
  • (Psalms 139:2) You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
  • God examines our hearts
  • he knows everything about us: our true personalities, our secret fantasies, our hidden motives
  • he knows something so small as when you sit, and when you get up

  • and here's something that really amazes me
  • God knows what could have been!
  • a few times in Scripture, God reveals his knowledge of not only things that had been, but things that could have been
  • for instance, Jesus said in Matthew 11:21 that Tyre and Sidon would have repented if Jesus' own miracles had been done there
  • theologian Wayne Grudem writes:
  • "God has made an incredibly complex and vast universe. But there are thousands upon thousands of other variations or kinds of things that God could have created but did not. God's infinite knowledge includes detailed knowledge of what each of those other possible creations would have been like and what would have happened in each of them!"
  • God knows everything that was, and everything that could have been

  • someone has speculated that if General Stonewall Jackson had not been killed early in the Civil War, he might have led the Confederacy to victory
  • another has said that if Adolf Hitler had only listened to the Jewish scientists in Germany, he would hav e had the atomic bomb first and ruled the world
  • we'll never know these things, but God knows
  • God knows about your potential history: what if you had been born at a different time, at a different place?
  • what if you had married differently?
  • God knows what could have been - a great comfort since we know that what did happen, out of all that could have happened, took place according to his will

  • here's a third fact about God's knowledge:
  • GOD'S OMNISCIENCE IS INSTANTANEOUS
  • God is always fully aware of everything
  • God's infinite knowledge is never taxed by all that's going on; God's knowledge is not like ours
  • he is forever aware of all things
  • he doesn't have to access information, like a computer retrieves a file
  • all knowledge is directly before God

  • if God should wish to tell us the number of grains of sand in the world, or the number of stars in the universe, he wouldn't have to count them all quickly, nor would he have to recall the number to mind
  • rather, God knows all things at once
  • everything God knows - every fact - is always fully present in his consciousness

  • let me tell you one last thing about God's omniscience
  • GOD'S OMNISCIENCE IS PERSONAL
  • God knows us personally
  • as we saw earlier, God knows when we sit down, and when we get up
  • he knows the number of hairs on your head
  • he knows your personality, and everything there is to know about you
  • (Psalms 139:3) You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
  • (Psalms 139:4) Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

  • one day, Jesus said:
  • (John 1:47) When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."
  • (1 Samuel 16:7) The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
  • God knows your motives; he knows your heart
  • for the unbeliever, what a terror!
  • people can't hide from God
  • their sins are exposed
  • there's no act that we can commit, no thought we can think, in any corner of the universe, that God won't know about!
  • God is the perfect judge, because he knows all the facts
  • God knows all the evidence
  • Psalm 73:8-11 says that people don't want an omniscient God for this very reason - they don't want God to see all their sin!

  • for the believer, what a joy to know that God knows all your sin, yet has chosen to forgive you
  • there's nothing that will surprise God in the future - he knows everything
  • you can have that forgiveness this morning
  • have you cried recently?
  • Psalm 56:8 tells us that God bottles up our tears
  • he knows every tear you've shed, every situation that has caused you pain
  • God's knowledge is personal in another way
  • you were created by a God whose knowledge is infinite, and who had an infinite number of options to choose from
  • he knew exactly what he was doing when he created you
  • you're no accident
  • nothing about you is an afterthought
  • as David says:
  • (Psalms 139:6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

  • God knows you
  • he knows everything about you
  • does that give you confidence?

Adapted in part from Our God is Awesome by Tony Evans

The Omnipresence of God

  • as we have gathered for worship this morning, we realize that we are not alone
  • all over the world, as I speak, millions of believers are lifting up their praise to God
  • I get excited when I think of the variety of worship
  • people from every nation, speaking different languages, looking very different, and using divergent worship styles, are all praising the almighty God as we sit here in this church
  • a little like heaven, I think

  • now this would present a problem to mere human beings
  • this past Tuesday, I had made plans to go out
  • it turned out that Charlene had also made plans, independent of me
  • and so we did the only fair thing: she went out, and left me at home to look after Christina
  • I had the problem all of us have at different times: I wanted to be in two places at once, but ended up having to settle for one

  • but God doesn't have that problem
  • God is present at every single one of the worship services held for him today
  • not only is God present at every worship service, he is present in every house, in every place of business, in every field or forest, pool hall, shopping center, and every conceivable place
  • whereas you and I are limited by space, there is no place in creation where God does not exist, and exist in all his divine fullness
  • this is what we call God's omnipresence
  • he is present at all places at all times
  • and where God is present, he is present in his fullness

  • we're in the second of what you could call the three "omni's"
  • the omnipotence of God - that God is all-powerful
  • the omniscience of God - that God is fully present at all places
  • and next week I'm hoping we'll examine the omniscience of God - that God knows all things
  • one of the weaknesses in talking about God in terms of his attributes is that we run the danger of dividing God into parts, or of thinking of God as a collection of attributes
  • you could speak of all of God's attributes and still not really understand God in his fullness
  • I'll give you an example
  • a female acquaintance of mine has a gentleman friend
  • I've never met him; all I know of him is what she's told me
  • I've heard certain of his qualities - that he's good-looking, intelligent, etc. - but no matter how many things I hear about him, I don't really know him
  • in fact, I won't really know him until I actually meet him and spend time with him

  • friends, it's the same with God
  • we can talk about his nature and his attributes - but even a detailed description of his attributes fails to do him justice
  • God is much more than the sum of all his attributes, and we will never really understand the riches of his character
  • but what a comfort to understand some of the qualities he possesses!

  • this morning I'd like to examine some Scriptures as we unwrap the truth of God's omnipresence
  • I'd like you to look in your Bibles with me at 1 Kings 8:26-27
  • in this passage, Solomon dedicates the magnificent temple he built for God so that all of Israel would understand that it is God's house
  • but Solomon made an important point, so the people would understand that God is not limited to any particular building:
  • (1 Kings 8:26) And now, O God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.
  • (1 Kings 8:27) "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!
  • from these verses we learn the first thing about God's omnipresence:
  • GOD IS NOT LIMITED BY TIME OR SPACE
  • with the magnificent temple there, the Israelites could have missed an important point: God cannot be contained by anything in all creation
  • even the highest heaven can't contain God!
  • God is infinitely present - he is present without limit
  • God is present not only in the universe, he is present in places we can't even fathom or imagine
  • there is no place where God is not

  • our human spirits are finite spirits
  • we are not now, nor will we ever be, capable of being in more than one place at the same time
  • only an infinite Spirit is capable of omnipresence
  • God is a Spirit; he is not constrained by time and place
  • with God, there are no "where's" and there are no "when's"
  • God is everywhere and at every time

  • when Jesus was on earth, he could only be at one place at one time
  • his humanity appeared to limit him to the demands of time and space
  • now that's a problem for us
  • when we need Jesus in Toronto, we don't want to hear that he's tied up in Calgary
  • someone in Japan who needs Jesus doesn't want to hear that he is busy in Etobicoke
  • but God is not limited by time or place
  • looking ahead to the time when the church would be established, Jesus said:
  • (Matthew 18:20) For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
  • before he left this world, we told the disciples:
  • (Matthew 28:20) And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
  • Jesus looked forward to a new day when he would be present with his followers not in body, but through the Holy Spirit
  • when Jesus came to earth, he came as Emmanuel, which means "God with us"
  • and today, God continues to be with us - God is everywhere, without any limitation of space or time
  • God is with is this morning at Park Lawn Baptist Church, just as he is with every believer in any part of this earth

  • it's probably best to think of God outside of the dimensions of size or spatial dimensions
  • God exists without size or dimensions in space
  • before God created the universe, there was no matter or material, nor was there any space, but God still existed
  • God relates to the idea of space in an entirely different way than we can grasp
  • some make the mistake of thinking that the universe consists of God - another mistake called pantheism
  • somehow, in a mysterious way, God is present in all creation, yet distinct from it
  • there is no place where God is not

  • the psalmist writes in Psalm 139:7:
  • (Psalms 139:7) Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
  • (Psalms 139:8) If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
  • (Psalms 139:9) If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
  • (Psalms 139:10) even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
  • there is nowhere in the entire universe, on land or sea, in heaven or hell, where one can flee from God's presence
  • as the old spiritual goes:
    • He's so high, you can't get over him
      He's so low, you can't get under him
      He's so wide, you can't get around him.

  • now, listen: you might be just like Jonah
  • Jonah tried to run away from God
  • he was a prophet, sent to carry the truth of God to the Ninevites, Israel's cruel enemies
  • Jonah didn't want to do it, so read what he did:
  • (Jonah 1:3) But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
  • Jonah thought he was running away from God
  • he traveled two thousand miles to Tarshish when we should have gone just five hundred miles to Nineveh
  • but you know what happened: God sent a storm and a whale, picked Jonah up, and turned him right around to Nineveh
  • when you think you can escape God, just remember: there's nowhere you can go where God isn't
    • He's so high, you can't get over him
      He's so low, you can't get under him
      He's so wide, you can't get around him.

  • the second thing we need to understand about God's omnipresence is this:
  • GOD IS ABLE TO BE PRESENT IN HIS FULLNESS AT ALL TIMES AND IN ALL PLACES
  • at first, you might miss how the point I'm making here is different from what I've already said
  • the key words are "in his fullness"
  • I'll say it again:
  • God is able to be present in his fullness at all times and in all places
  • you see, the "omni" in omnipresence doesn't just relate to the places where God is; it also tells us how much of God is in any given place
  • God is not only present in all places, but God is fully present in every place
  • this is called God's immensity

  • it's possible for people to be somewhere without being fully there
  • in fact, it's probably true of some of you in church this morning
  • you're here, but you're not really here
  • you're not engaged; part of you might be here, but your mind might be miles away
  • it's not that way with God
  • believers in Toronto, Ontario, Canada are this morning enjoying the fullness of the presence of God, while believers in Moscow, Russia enjoy the fullness of his presence
  • God is not only present everywhere, he is also present in all his fullness

  • do you know what this means?
  • we can always be certain of God's undivided attention
  • God doesn't have call-waiting; he never puts us on hold to deal with another call
  • we never need to stand in line or make an appointment to be with God
  • we never get a busy signal
  • when we are in God's presence, he is not preoccupied with events on the other side of the world
  • God is here in all his fullness
  • whatever you do, wherever you are, God is right there, and all of him is there

  • as a child, I used to wonder: how can God hear my prayer while there might be thousands of others praying at this very given moment?
  • the answer is: God is not limited
  • his presence is fully with me, just as his presence is fully with every other creature who is praying to him
  • God's presence is everywhere; God fills the universe and more

  • YOU KNOW, GOD'S OMNIPRESENCE BRINGS COMFORT TO THE BELIEVER - BUT TERROR TO THE UNBELIEVER
  • as I've said already, there is no escaping God
  • you can run, but you can't hide
  • there is no place to hide from God
  • there is no corner of the universe where God is not
  • I've heard people say that hell is the absence of God's presence, but even in hell, God is fully present - but in the fullness of his divine wrath
  • there's no way we can escape God

  • but knowing of God's full presence in every place is an incredible comfort for the child of God
  • Satan isn't omnipresent
  • he is limited by time and space
  • that's why John could declare:
  • (1 John 4:4) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
  • God is everywhere; Satan isn't

  • we also know that God is with his children in a special way
  • because God is omnipresent, he is with every creature in the entire universe
  • yet the Bible speaks of God not being present with certain people
  • (Isaiah 59:2) But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
  • (Proverbs 15:29) The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
  • even though God's presence is everywhere, the Bible speaks of God withholding his blessing from people who don't know him
  • in essence, God is everywhere, yet he acts differently in different places

  • all this is to say that God is present with his children in a special way - a way that is designed to sustain and bless
  • it's one thing to say that God is everywhere; it's another thing altogether to realize that because you are his child, he is with you wherever you go
  • God is present with us in our struggles and needs
  • Hebrews 13:5 has a wonderful promise for us, but it has a condition attached to it
  • the first half of the verse says:
  • (Hebrews 13:5) Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have
  • if we live our lives in contentment, free from the love of money, look at the promise that's waiting for us:
  • (Hebrews 13:5) ...because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
  • (Hebrews 13:6) So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
  • God is always with us; we can be content with what we have, knowing that God will meet our needs

  • one of the first single mothers in the Bible is Hagar
  • she was pregnant with Abraham's child, but Abraham's wife Sarah drove her out of the house
  • out in the desert, with no one to care for her, she wondered how she could manage
  • and God appeared to her, and told her that everything was going to be all right
  • in Genesis 16:13, Hagar called the God who spoke to her El Roi, "the God who sees"
  • and every single parent since then - indeed, every person - can know that God sees their problems, and cares about them

  • in Isaiah 41:10, God says:
  • (Isaiah 41:10) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • when life's challenges overwhelm us, we can know that God is with us

  • some of us are lonely
  • we can be assured that God is with us, and desires a relationship with us
  • we can say to God, "Lord, let me snuggle up to you"
  • God never lets us down; he's always with us, and he's always faithful

  • it makes all the difference in the world to know that God is there with us
  • the prophet Elisha was once surrounded by the armies of Syria in Dothan
  • when Elisha's servant stepped out of the house that morning, he saw a huge army surrounding the city
  • the servant, in great distress, ran to Elisha and cried, "What shall we do?"

  • Elisha replied, "Don't worry - we've got them outnumbered"
  • I think his servant probably thought Elisha had lost it
  • but then listen to what happened:
  • (2 Kings 6:17) And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
  • the scales dropped from the servant's eyes, and he saw a mountain filled with an army of angels
  • when God opens our eyes, he allows us to look beyond our circumstances to see the vast amount of resources we have in him
  • he allows us to see his presence
  • (Hebrews 13:5) ...because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
  • (Isaiah 41:10) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • maybe we need to God's presence surrounding us - God with us in his fullness, at all times, and in every place
  • God is with you
  • and he will continue to stay with you until one day he carries you home
  • (Matthew 28:20) And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Adapted in part from Our God is Awesome by Tony Evans