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Preaching to Myself

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Preaching to Myself

Postby mattrose » Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:40 pm

I started a new sermon series this past Sunday and, more than usual, I really feel like this series will speak to me (the preacher). The series is called "God is love" and connects that phrase from 1 John 4:8,16 to the love-list in 1 Cor. 13. I introduced the series with a Tozer quote about how our view of God is the most important thing about us and how we tend to become like the God we believe exists.

I very rarely journal, but I found myself typing out some thoughts tonight. Perhaps I will 'journal' a bit throughout my series (or maybe this will be the only occurrence?). But I'm posting my thoughts below:
As I asked myself the question “what do my current weaknesses say about my true beliefs about God’s character?”… I realized that I might, deep down, believe that God is too inactive. If I feel I struggle with indifference, does that mean I might think God struggles with that too? If I feel like I’m somewhat lazy, does that mean that in my heart of hearts I feel God isn’t working as hard as He should?

If so… if to any degree this is true… could it be that I have too quickly interpreted as inactivity, indifference, and laziness what is actually an astounding level of patience? Could it be that divine patience is so immense that it is easily misunderstood?

That seems to be what 2 Peter 3 is getting at. Scoffers were rejecting God because time seemed to be continuing on ad-nauseam. But the passage alerts us to the fact that God’s seeming inactivity was not motivated by indifference and/or laziness, but by patience. God was patiently waiting for more and more people (even scoffers) to come into the fold.

But is this level of patience a good strategy? It doesn’t seem that it was working in 2 Peter 3. While he’s waiting them out, they’re growing harder and harder. Am I now questioning God’s wisdom instead of His effort-level?
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Re: Preaching to Myself

Postby Michelle » Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:58 pm

Hi mattrose,

I read this on Monday and thought about it all week (way to go, pastor, giving me something about God to think about all week.)

I really like what you wrote about how God's patience may appear to us to be indolence or indifference. I have thoughts about 2 Peter 3, but, yeah, I'm not a scholar, so I'm not sure those thoughts are well grounded. I do have something to say about this part of your musing:
you wrote:As I asked myself the question “what do my current weaknesses say about my true beliefs about God’s character?”… I realized that I might, deep down, believe that God is too inactive. If I feel I struggle with indifference, does that mean I might think God struggles with that too? If I feel like I’m somewhat lazy, does that mean that in my heart of hearts I feel God isn’t working as hard as He should?

I think we struggle in the areas where we believe we are least like God. If truly I believed that God was inactive, my failures to act could be shrugged off. If I believed that patience was just a cover for procrastination, I would be proud of myself every time I rushed to beat a deadline.

In reality, I see a huge gap between my shortcomings and God's perfect love and holiness.

I wonder what my perceived strengths say about my true beliefs about God's character. In my case, I kind of believe that patience is one of my stronger points. Does this mean that I recognize this as a godly trait that I (or the Holy Spirit, more likely) have been cultivating in my life?

What about the person who is a firebrand, the guy who always wants to nip things in the bud, who frequently strikes before considering? (Saul of Tarsus?) If he believes he is doing God's work, what does this say about what he believes about God? Does such a person see love as God's defining character? Probably not. Judgement is probably the defining characteristic in this man's mind.

...Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about this week. I'm looking forward to your next sermon!
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Re: Preaching to Myself

Postby mattrose » Sat Mar 01, 2014 11:37 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Michelle :)

I also consider patience to be a strong-suit... though I sometimes wonder if it is too close to indifference in some cases.

I've been reading quotes about how we become what we worship ('What we revere, we resemble'). I'm not completely sold on the idea. But I do think people that love the world tend to become like the world. And, of course, people that love Christ tend to become like Christ.

That being said, sometimes our stated beliefs about God are not identical with our deep-down beliefs about God. I guess in my musings I was wondering if it is a legitimate principle to use our personal weaknesses as a way of unearthing our true feelings about God (perhaps feelings that are buried too deep for us to really voice). I may not be brave enough to come right out and say that I think God is too inactive in the world today. But perhaps deep down I do think that and that thinking leads to my own lack of passionate action.

Of course, I'm not saying God actually isn't active enough. I'm saying I may perceive Him to be. The goal of my series is to correct mistaken notions of God... even one's that are buried deep down and rarely if ever voiced.

I'm rambling, which probably means I should go to sleep so I can preach on 'God is patient' in the morning :)
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Re: Preaching to Myself

Postby Michelle » Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:25 am

I'm rambling, which probably means I should go to sleep so I can preach on 'God is patient' in the morning :)

I'm probably posting during your sermon today. I pray that God will use your voice for His glory.
mattrose wrote:That being said, sometimes our stated beliefs about God are not identical with our deep-down beliefs about God. I guess in my musings I was wondering if it is a legitimate principle to use our personal weaknesses as a way of unearthing our true feelings about God (perhaps feelings that are buried too deep for us to really voice). I may not be brave enough to come right out and say that I think God is too inactive in the world today. But perhaps deep down I do think that and that thinking leads to my own lack of passionate action.

Of course, I'm not saying God actually isn't active enough. I'm saying I may perceive Him to be. The goal of my series is to correct mistaken notions of God... even one's that are buried deep down and rarely if ever voiced.

I like your musings. I like thinking about what I truly believe.

If you were brave enough to come right out and say that you think God is too inactive, I think you'd be in good company: David, Isaiah, Habbakuk, the martyrs under the altar...
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Re: Preaching to Myself

Postby mattrose » Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:19 pm

Michelle wrote:If you were brave enough to come right out and say that you think God is too inactive, I think you'd be in good company: David, Isaiah, Habbakuk, the martyrs under the altar...


Well said.

The patience sermon can be found at the website of the little church I preach at
http://www.lockportwesleyan.com/apps/podcast/

Thanks to my wife for putting this website together and putting the recordings online :)
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Re: Preaching to Myself

Postby mattrose » Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:42 pm

For 'God is kind' I found myself (in my sermon, but even moreso in Sunday School afterward) spending the most time and getting most passionate about a distinction between 'niceness' and 'kindness.' I think most Christians are nice, but I'm not sure we're kind enough. We should probably be less nice and more kind. We should confront more often, but with the weapon of kindness. Kindness values comforting others over comfort-zones and relationship over reputation. Kindness is particularly focused on the needy. I was moved afresh by Romans 2:4 when it says that it is God's KINDNESS (not His wrath) that leads us to repentance. Our evangelistic strategy should be genuine Christian kindness... the kind that doesn't just cause people to smile... but causes people to cry (tears of joy). I want to be shockingly kind.
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Re: Preaching to Myself

Postby mattrose » Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:17 pm

Preparing for a sermon on "God does not envy" is quite a language work-out. Distinguishing between envy and jealousy is somewhat difficult in English. When you throw in a bunch of different Greek and Hebrew words it can quickly lead to chaos. It seems as if PHTHONOS (#5355) should basically be translated as ENVY and is always NEGATIVE (with the POSSIBLE exception of James 4:5). ZELOS (#2205), on the other hand, should basically be translated as ZEALOUS or JEALOUS and may be POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE. In the Old Testament the english word JEALOUS is usually positive and, specifically, most often used in reference to God. The english word ENVY, in the OT, is always negative. I haven't really looked into the underlying Hebrew words yet.

Tentatively, and without nuance, it seems that ENVY is a decent english word to describe sinful comparison. We see someone else and what they possess. We envy what they have. We want it for ourselves (whether that be at their expense or not). We may think they don't deserve it (and we do). This is always wrong, even though it may in some circumstances play a positive motivational role. JEALOUS is a decent english word to describe a sense of possessiveness. The reason that jealousy may be good or bad is because the jealous party may or may not have the right of possession. When God is jealous, it is because God has the covenant right to the Israel's love. An earthly husband may have either appropriate or inappropriate jealousy in regards to his wife. It would be appropriate for a husband to experience the emotion of jealousy if his relationship is truly experiencing a threat (motivated by love). It would be inappropriate, however, if his jealousy was unfounded (motivated by fear).

God does not envy. With whom could God compare Himself in a way that left Him wanting? No one. What does God lack? No thing.

God does not get jealous in the negative sense. His jealousy is never motivated by unfounded fear, worry, or over-analysis.

God does get jealous in the positive sense. When a relationship that He has is threatened by a 3rd party, He becomes extremely passionate to protect that relationship.

Just thinking out loud... feel free to chime in :)
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Re: Preaching to Myself

Postby darinhouston » Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:34 pm

Funny -- I think I tend to be kind but without always being nice. (is that possible?)


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Re: Preaching to Myself

Postby mattrose » Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:32 pm

darinhouston wrote:Funny -- I think I tend to be kind but without always being nice. (is that possible?)


I suppose so! If that's the case, I think my circles could use some people like you :)
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Re: Preaching to Myself

Postby Michelle » Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:53 am

I listened to your sermon twice and finally get the difference between kind and nice. Once that distinction was made, I completely embraced it. (Wonder why it took so long...even in first grade we encourage our students to find a different adjective in place of nice, since it is actually pretty meaningless.) One problem I think that made me consider this so much (at least three days) is that girls are encouraged to be nice, which should probably be changed to 'be kind'. Even you, Matt, used the words interchangeably at the end when you were relating the story of the pizza delivery guy.

As for jealous and its positive/negative connotation, I heard a sermon that suggests that part of Satan's deception in the garden is that God is jealous (negatively) of His knowledge and wisdom. I just found that kind of interesting in light of your sermon series.
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