It’s all about God!

 

Opening:

Welcome to winter! We got almost 6 inches of snow at our house on Thursday. Of course, it was the first time that my new grandsons, Zealand and Stejer, had ever seen snow—you don’t get a lot of snow in Ethiopia! Here’s their first family picture in the snow. The boys took to snow like fish to water; they made snowballs which they threw at the dog, the cat, mom and dad, and each other. And Zealand learned how to make snow angels. (Pictures of Zealand: toggle back and forth.) Great fun!

So when the boys got up Thursday morning and saw the snow, Zealand was looking out the window, and he asked his daddy, “Ababa, did you make all of this?” Zac said, “No. Jesus made all the snow.” And Zealand said, “Jesus is amazing.”

Amen! Jesus is amazing.

Today, we start a new series of talks called, “It’s all about God.” We’re going to take several weeks to think and talk about God. We’re going to see how amazing He is and why He is worthy of all our love and devotion. And when we’re all done, I hope you’ll stand in awe, like Zealand, and say, “Jesus is amazing.”

 

Announcements and baptisms:

Christmas schedule (back of tear-off) and sign up for AdventureLand volunteers!

Tom’s Turkey Drive (bottom of middle page)—over $21,000 given last Sunday.

Women’s Christmas Dessert (bottom of left page)—a find/tell/bring event for women.  Tickets go on sale today.

Here, at prayer, or the end: Brad Williams is going to be the lead pastor at Summit Ridge, the first church we planted back in 1997. He officially begins on Jan. 1.

 

Introduction:

I live most of my life focused on myself—it’s all about me. Can anyone else relate to this? Most of the time, I think about me. I definitely like to talk about me—I’m much more interesting than you. I like to spend most of my money on me. And I not only think about me, but I want you to think about me too. It’s all about me.

I googled “it’s all about me”, expecting to find pictures of me and stories about me, and instead I found out everyone else thinks it’s all about them. I found lots of t-shirts with slogans like this.

It’s all about me: deal with it!”

It’s all about me. I’m so awesome I’m jealous of myself.”

It’s all about me” seems to be what everyone thinks! Turn to your neighbor and say, “It’s all about me.”

If you really believe that, I have a cd I want you to buy.

{cheesy video here}

Give it to your friends, if you have any.

I live most of life focused on myself—it’s all about me. But in reality, life is not about me; it’s about God. This world is God’s world, not mine. History is God’s story, not mine. I am a tiny bit player in God’s huge story; it’s God’s story, not mine. Even my own life is not my own; I belong to God!

Today we start a new series of talks called, “It’s all about God.” For the next several weeks, I want to think with you about how great God is. I want us to get a fresh perspective on who God is and who we are in relation to Him.

I was inspired to do this series several months ago when I was reading Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. We have the book available at the resource center if you’d like to read it—it’s very inspiring and challenging. Chan writes:

The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. …He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers.”

Why do we live halfhearted or lukewarm lives? Because we have an inaccurate view of God. We don’t see Him as He really is. We magnify ourselves and we minimize God. Our God is too small! So I want to invite you to join me along with the Psalmist:

Psalm 34:3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!

Let’s magnify the Lord together! Jesus is amazing! It’s all about God.

 

1. Creation is all about God.

This is God’s world.

The Bible says that the created world points to God as Creator.

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

So let’s think for a moment at this amazing universe we live in.

Our planet, the earth, is approximately 25,000 miles around, and is inhabited by over 1.6 million species of plant and animal life. Our planet supports all this life because of a finely tuned balance of factors. If any of these factors were to change even minutely, life would cease to exist. Many scientists see this fine-tuning as evidence of God’s creative activity.

1.6 million species and the intricacy of even the simplest species is astonishing. Did you know that a caterpillar has 228 separate and distinct muscles in its head? That’s a lot for a bug! Did you know the average elm tree has 6 million leaves? Or that your own heart generates enough pressure that it could squirt blood up to 30 feet. (I don’t recommend trying this.) Did you know that there are 3000 species of trees in a single square mile of jungle in the Amazon? Or that when spiders build their webs, they create 60 feet of silk per hour and at the same time secrete a special oil on their feet so they don’t stick to their own web? You may not like spiders, but 60 feet an hour and special oil deserves some respect!

It’s an amazing world…and it’s God’s world. When was the last time you simply sat in wonder?

ILL: I was skiing with some friends once on a beautiful sunny day. When we got to the top of the lift, we stopped and looked out over Lake Pend Orielle and the mountains beyond in silence, until one of my friends began to shout, “Author! Author!”

This is God’s world.

Our planet is the third rock from the sun in our solar system; the sun is 93 million miles or one AU (astronomical unit) away. Neptune, the eighth and farthest planet is 30 AU’s away from the sun, or 2,790,000,000 miles away from us. The average air speed of a commercial passenger plane is 575 miles per hour. At that speed, it would take you 18.5 years of non-stop travel to reach the sun, although you might get a little warm before you got there. Or it would take 536 years to reach Neptune. Don’t complain about a 30-minute drive to church!

Our sun is one star of 200-400 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Imagine that: up to 400 billion stars in our galaxy! The Milky Way is 100,000 light years across and 1000 light years thick. A light year is the distance light travels in a vacuum in a year. One light year is 63,241 AU’s, or over 6 trillion miles. Flying in our plane at 575 mph, it would take us over 1,169,000 years to travel one light year. And our galaxy is 100,000 light years across.

And if that doesn’t make you feel small, our galaxy is one of more than 350 billion galaxies in our universe.

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

The universe is huge! God is bigger still. The heavens declare the glory of God!

The vastness of the universe has led some people to reject God. They can’t imagine something bigger than the universe. Of course, until the Hubble telescope, most of us couldn’t imagine anything bigger than our galaxy; and before that, anything bigger than our solar system; and before that anything bigger than our world. We suffer from a lack of imagination! Creation is huge; God is huger!

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In the beginning, God created. Why? Why did God create the world?

Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

All things were created by Him and for Him. Notice those last two words. They were created for Him. All this is for Him. Everything was created for Him—that includes you! It all exists for His pleasure.

Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

The King James Version says, “for your pleasure”. Everything exists because God wanted it to exist. He created it for Him. This is God’s world. And all of it shouts His praise.

Psalm 148:1–14 Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. 2 Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. 4 Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. 5 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. 6 He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, 8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, 9 you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, 10 wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, 11 kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, 12 young men and maidens, old men and children. 13 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. 14 He has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his saints, of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the Lord.

This is God’s world, and it’s all praising Him; let’s join in! This is God’s world. It’s all about God!

 

2. History is all about God.

This is God’s story.

History is His story, not yours. History is all about God. We think that it is all about us, and we forget that we are only bit players in God’s great drama. The Bible says that our time on the stage of history is like a vapor escaping a teakettle: it’s here and gone in a moment. We are temporary—very temporary—and God is eternal. This is God’s story. And it goes something like this:

  • In the beginning, eons ago, God created the heavens and the earth, because God wanted to. He created it for Himself. Were you there for that?

  • God created human beings and offered them a relationship of love with Himself. God loved us. But we rejected God because we wanted to be the star of the story; we wanted to be our own god.

  • So God began the long slow process of wooing us back to Himself. God called Abraham and God made a covenant with Abraham and His descendants to bless the whole world.

  • God rescued the Israelites out of Egypt and made them a nation to bless the whole world. Are you in the story yet?

  • God raised up David to be king, and promised that a Savior would come from David’s family to bless the whole world.

  • God sent His Son to fulfill that promise. Jesus lived a perfect life, died on a cross in our place and was raised from the dead to save and bless the whole world!

  • God sent His Spirit to fill the followers of Jesus to empower them to take this good news to the whole world.

  • God promised that Jesus would return and that we will be with God forever in a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness reigns forever.

Where is God in this story? Everywhere, from start to finish. In fact, He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega. Listen to how Paul describes the end of the story:

1 Corinthians 15:24–28 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

How does the story end? God will be all in all. God will be everything! It’s God’s story, from beginning to end.

And where are you in this story? Right now, you are in a sentence on a page in between Jesus’ first coming and His second coming. This is God’s story, not yours. The good news is that you are in God’s story. But it’s not about you; it’s about Him.

ILL: Imagine getting cast in a movie as an extra. You don’t have any lines; you simply walk across the set in one scene. If someone is watching for you, they might notice the back of your head for about a second and a half. “There I am!” you shout, during your scene, and all your family cheers! “Way to go! You’re in the movie!”

Now imagine that you rent a theater, and screen a private showing of the movie, and invite all your friends to see it. “Come see my movie!”

What’s it about?” they ask. And you say, “It’s about me, of course.” So they come watch and they never see you until you jump up and shout, “There I am!” And they ask, “Where?”, but by the time you can point to it, you’re gone and the movie goes on. Afterwards, they say, “Dude, you’re crazy; that movie wasn’t about you!”

This is how we tend to live our lives. We forget that it’s God’s story; we forget that it’s not about me. This is God’s story. The good news is that I’m invited into God’s great story; I just have to remember that it’s His story, not mine, that I’m an extra, not the star!

And what is the hinge of history? What is the turning point of the story? It’s not when you were born, or married or died. It’s not about you at all. No one measures history as BJ or AJ: before Joe or after Joe. It’s not about me. The hinge of history is the coming of Christ, when God became a man and lived among us to show us His love. The hinge of history is the incarnation that we celebrate next month at Christmas, and Christ’s death and resurrection that we celebrate at Easter. Jesus is amazing!

Creation is all about God; this is God’s world.

History is all about God; this is God’s story.

And…

 

3. You are all about God.

You are God’s person.

This only makes sense, doesn’t it? If God created everything, including you for Himself, then shouldn’t you be all about God? If this is God’s story and you’re in it, shouldn’t you be all about God?

1 Corinthians 6:19–20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Paul is writing about abstaining from sexual immorality because your body isn’t your own. It belongs to God. So we should use what belongs to God to honor God. This is true of your whole life.

You are not your own. You are not your own! You are not your own!

The big lie in our world is that you are your own. “It’s my life, I can do what I want. It’s my life, my time, my body, my money, my choice.” Jesus challenges that head-on. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” And what was that price? The blood of Jesus, the life of God’s Son.

1 Peter 1:18–19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

You are not your own; you were bought at a price. And the price wasn’t silver or gold, but the precious blood of Christ. You are not your own.

Say this with me: “I am not my own. I belong to God.”

ILL: There is a well-known old story about a young boy who made a small boat, painted it red, and attached a string so he could float it in a nearby creek. One day, the current caught the boat and swept it away; the boy went home in tears.

But a week later, he saw his boat in the window of a small shop in his town. He burst in and told the owner that it was his boat in the window, that he had made that boat. The owner said, “Well, son, that boat costs two dollars.” The boy left in tears again; he didn’t have two dollars. So he went home and told his father who offered to pay him 25 cents a week for some extra chores.

Two months later, the boy marched into the shop and plunked two dollars down on the counter. “I want to buy my boat,” he said. And as he left the shop, boat in hand, he was overheard saying, “Red boat, you’re twice mine now: once because I made you, and twice because I bought you.”

You are twice God’s: once because He made you for Himself; and twice because He bought you for Himself. You are not your own. You belong to God.

2 Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Because Christ died for you, because you belong to Him, you no longer live for yourself, but for Him. You don’t live for yourself; you live for Jesus. You live for God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. It’s all about God!

ILL: I just got back from El Salvador 10 days ago, and it was awesome. You’ll hear more about it in weeks to come. We are partnered with a terrific church there—Iglesia Elim in the town of Armenia. This church of 300 (I took this picture after preaching on Sunday—they send you their greetings!) is caring for 323 poor children from their community, and 52 young moms. (I took this picture when we first arrived; many of the kids gathered to greet us all dressed up!) Michael and I each got to sponsor one of the kids, a brother and sister named Marvin and Marcela—here they are with their parents after church. Pastor Frank calls Marcela “the little earthquake”! She is! We were given these children because they live in such poverty: a corrugated tin shack held up with poles, dirt floor, no electricity, no running water, and they live on about 40 cents per day per person. It was stunning. The kids are wearing new clothes we brought them. More about this later…

This church is doing incredible things on a shoestring budget—amazing! And every time we would say, “This is awesome,” they would say, “Gloria a Dios! Gloria a Dios!” Glory to God!

This is how we are to live our lives: for the glory of God. It’s not about me; it’s about God. It’s not my story; it’s God’s story. It’s not my world; it’s God’s world. It’s all about God! Gloria a Dios!