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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Preached At:Providence Canadian Reformed Church
 Hamilton, Ontario
 
Title:The almighty God is my faithful Father and he gives everything its meaning
Text:LD 9 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Amazing Purpose
 
Preached:2010
Added:2010-06-08
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 100
Hymn 1A
Psalm 95
Hymn 54
Psalm 136:1-4

Readings:  Genesis 1, Revelation 4
Text: Lord's Day 9
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus,

 

Stephen Jay Gould is a very intelligent man and an effective communicator.  He’s written extensively on the natural world and science.  He’s also reflected on the big important questions of life.  Here’s what he wrote in one place on the meaning of our lives:

 

We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because comets struck the earth and wiped out dinosaurs, thereby giving mammals a chance not otherwise available….We may yearn for a ‘higher’ answer – but none exists.  This explanation, though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating.  We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature.  We must construct these answers for ourselves.

 

It should be obvious from that quote that Stephen Jay Gould is not a Christian.  Rather than believing what the Bible says about the origin of the world, Gould holds to the theory of evolution.  He believes that man has descended from fishes and primates and so on.  But more than that, he also believes that there is no meaning to human life apart from the meaning that we make for ourselves.  Sadly, this is a common way of thinking. 

 

Nevertheless, it forces us to think about these questions for ourselves.  Why are we here?  What does give our lives meaning and purpose?  Do we construct our own meaning?  These are questions that we need to reflect on with an open Bible.  God’s Word gives us the authoritative answers to these questions.  In the Bible, we don’t find theories, we find truth.  In the Bible we find the revelation of who our God is. 

 

The Bible reveals to us that God is almighty.  This almighty God is also our faithful Father through Jesus Christ and because of the gospel.  When we understand those biblical teachings, then we also more clearly understand how our lives have direction, meaning and purpose.  Our lives, and indeed the lives of all humans who’ve ever lived and ever will live, take on significant significance when viewed through the lens of these truths.  So, this afternoon I preach to you God’s Word with this theme:

 

The almighty God is my faithful Father and he gives everything its meaning

 

We’ll consider how this connects to the:

 

1.      Past

2.      Present

3.      Future

 

When referring to God, the word “Father” in the Bible can have several different meanings or connotations.  One of those has to do with God’s work of creation at the very beginning.  In Isaiah 64:8, for instance:  “O LORD, you are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  Especially in creating man from the dust of the earth, God is referred to here as Father.  Not only humanity, but every created thing owes its existence to God and thus he is the Father of creation.  That’s why James 1:17 refers to him as the “Father of the heavenly lights.”  And in Job 38:28, God says that he is the Father of the rain and the drops of dew.  So, the idea of God as Father is often associated with his work of creation.

 

In that work of creation at the very beginning, we find God revealed in his almighty power.  In Genesis 1, everything is created by the Word of God.  God says, “Let there be light” and there is light.  He did that not only with the light, but with everything.  He calls into being the things that are not with his words.  Revelation 4 says it as well:  all things were created by the will of God.  He creates something from nothing by his will and Word.  That’s awesome power.  Who else can speak and make things exist just like that?  Only God!

 

Moreover, God did all of this incredible work of creation in only six days.  When Scripture speaks in this way, we have no reason to believe that these days were anything other than ordinary days.  Whenever the Hebrew word for day is used in connection with a number in the Old Testament, it always refers to a normal day.  In the fourth commandment too, God speaks of having created the world in six days and there is nothing to indicate that this is anything other than six ordinary days.  When we believe that, it only heightens our sense of awe at God’s almighty power.  Everything that exists was called into being in a span of six days.  Our God is mighty and powerful!     

 

The mighty creative work of the Father at the beginning ties directly into the meaning and purpose of everything.  In Isaiah 43:7, God speaks of his sons and daughters who have been scattered over the face of the earth.  He says that they were created for his glory.  Proverbs 16:4 says something similar, “The LORD works out everything for his own ends – even the wicked for a day of disaster.”  When we speak about the meaning and purpose of every created thing, then the first and highest purpose is always the glory of God, and that even includes people who turn their backs on God. 

 

I remember once speaking with a friend whose son had been brought up in the faith.  However, as he grew older, he rebelled against his parents and turned his back on Christ and the gospel.  He wanted to live life his own way and do his own thing.   I asked my friend how he and his wife coped with this.  It grieved them deeply.  But they said that they prayed all the time for their son.  At the same time, however, he said that he knew that God has his hand in everything and that even the unrepentant have been created for God’s glory.  He then told the story of a friend who had a son in a similar situation, but then the son died in a horrible traffic accident.  There was no evidence that he had repented and was believing the gospel.  He loved his son, but he loved God more and he said that he knew that even his son’s life had not been purposeless and meaningless.  His son had been created and put on this earth for a reason, if only to glorify God’s justice. 

In Romans 9, Paul says the same thing.  He says that there are those who are objects of God’s wrath, who have been “prepared for destruction.”  And he says in verse 21, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honour and another for dishonour?”  The point is that God has a purpose for everything he has created and all those purposes come together to somehow magnify his glory and worth.  God has created nothing meaninglessly or purposelessly.  While we know that it all culminates in his glory, we don’t always understand the details of how that works.  If we did, we would be on our way to comprehending God fully and God would no longer be God.  So many times, we have to content ourselves with the knowledge that our Father knows best.  In faith we trust him, we believe that in his wisdom he has created everything with a good purpose and meaning. 

 

Of course, loved ones, that includes you and me.  We never have to doubt for a minute that there is a reason why God formed us in our mother’s womb and brought us into this world.  There is a meaning, there is a purpose and it all points upward to our faithful Father.       

 

That of course brings us into the present day.  If God created everything in ages past with a good purpose and meaning, we can be confident that in the present he will still be faithful to what he has made.  God’s faithfulness to his creation in general is a theme that we find in many places in Scripture.  Think of Genesis 9 after the flood in the days of Noah.  God made his covenant, not only with Noah, but with every living creature on the earth.  That’s why this administration of the covenant is sometimes called the covenant of or with creation.  There God affirms his faithfulness to what he has made.  

 

This a theme in the last five psalms as well.  Psalm 145:9, “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”  Psalm 146:6 tells us that God is the maker of heaven and earth and he remains faithful forever.  He does that by giving food to the hungry, lifting up those who are bowed down, taking care of the disenfranchised.  In Psalm 147, God is the one who determined the number of the stars, he covers the skies with clouds, and gives food to cattle and ravens.  In Psalm 148, the highest heavens and the waters above the skies came into being at God’s command.  All created things are supported by God and are called to praise him.  In Psalm 149, Israel is called to praise their Creator who takes delight in them and who crowns them with salvation.  Psalm 150 is the climax of it all and there God’s people are told to pull out all the stops and praise God for his wonderful acts of power and surpassing greatness.  Do we need to go further?  Scripture is abundantly clear that God not only created all things, but also continues to uphold and govern them.  God is involved with his creation, not only at the beginning but at every single moment, and also right now.  That holds true in general, and it’s equally true for his relationship with his people, the apple of his eye, those who have been bought with the blood of Christ.  God is near and involved with us.     

 

A few years back a sociologist did a study of American teenagers and their religious beliefs.  Christian Smith reported that the beliefs of most teenagers can be characterized as moralistic, therapeutic deism.  According to that view, God is primarily concerned with making people happy, bailing them out when they get in trouble, and providing them with the necessary goods to enjoy life.  But otherwise God is uninvolved in the world and with people.  We call that view deism – although it’s always been around in some form, we usually associate it with the Enlightenment (in the seventeenth century) and the idea of God as a clockmaker.  God made the world, like a clockmaker would make a clock.  He then wound it up and he let it run and then withdrew himself to do whatever a divine figure might want to do apart from taking care of the universe.  That’s deism and according to Christian Smith and others it’s still around and actually the prevailing view of God, at least among young people.

 

But what about with us?  What about you younger brothers and sisters?  Do you believe that God is involved with your life and all its intimate details?  Does God care about what courses you’re going to take and how much effort you put into them?  The friends you have?  The boy or girl you might be interested in?  What does the Bible say about God and his involvement in your life?  Let me encourage every one of us young and old to believe what the Lord Jesus says about this in Matthew 10:29-31, “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.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Aren’t those beautiful words?  The Lord Jesus tells us that even the smallest things that we don’t think of as important, like the hairs on our head, even those are in God’s plan.  God is no clock-maker, but a Father who hovers over us, constantly watching us in care and love.  He not only watches, but he also governs and guides.  His power extends to every moment, every square inch, every single cell, every single thing.  Our God is sovereign. 

 

So also when we speak about the present and our almighty God, we need to remember that there is meaning, purpose and direction.  If God were the clock-maker of the deists, we would be adrift in a sea of chance.  If God were someone other than the One revealed in Scripture, we could be left wondering and doubting about the meaning of life and the reason we’re here.  But Scripture reveals a God who is there and who does get right down into the nitty-gritty dirt and messiness of our lives.  Scripture also reveals that as God does this in the lives of his people, he is working for their good at the present moment.  He provides all that is needed for body and soul and he also works everything for good.  All of that is because of the gospel, because of what Christ has done for us.  God is our Father who loves us because Christ paid the price for us, Christ offers his perfect righteousness for us.  God is our Father who loves us because Christ has conquered sin and death.  The good news includes the love of a heavenly Father!

 

His love is certain as we look back into the past, as we look at the present, and also as we look ahead into the future.  The Catechism directs us to this future aspect when it says, “He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul, and will also turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this life of sorrow.”  Faith looks to all that is promised us in the gospel and this is part of it, a promise for the future.

 

From a human perspective, the future is uncertain in so many ways.  Who knows whether you’ll have good health tomorrow or next week or next month?  Who knows what might happen to the husband or wife that you love so dearly?  Who knows about your children and whether they’ll always believe the gospel and show the fruit of it?  Who knows...we could go on and on.  There are these uncertainties and you could drive yourself batty thinking about them all. 

 

That’s where the character of faith as ‘trusting’ and ‘resting’ comes in.  We trust God so completely that we don’t doubt his love for us at any point, not in the past, not in the present and not for the future.  Faith says, “He is my God and my Father who will never abandon me.”  We trust God.  We also rest in God’s promises.  Rather than getting agitated and worked up, faith leads us to say, “My Father has promised me that he upholds and governs all things, my Father has promised that he will make everything work out – I’m going to rest in that, I’m going to believe him and trust him, even if I can’t understand how it’s all going to work out.”

 

Brothers and sisters, faith leads us away from meditating and mulling over uncertainties to meditating and mulling over what is certain.  What is certain is that your Father is in control.  What is real is that God is on his throne.  The Lord of the gentle breeze is the Lord of the rough and tumble.  Your Father will never throw you out on your own.

 

Many of you are familiar with that famous poem “Footprints.”  You know how it goes.  A man has a dream in which he sees all the scenes of his life and there are footprints in the sand to go with each scene.  In most of the scenes, there are two sets, his and the Lord’s.  But when there were times of adversity, then there was only one set of footprints.  The man wondered why – he thought that he had been abandoned and then God told him that it was then that he carried the man.  It’s a nice poem, but unfortunately it does give the impression that God only carries us during the really hard times and then for the rest we’re left to walk on our own beside him, a sort of “God is my co-pilot” idea.  Brothers and sisters, the gospel is way better than that.  What is promised us in the gospel in the first article of the Apostles’ Creed tells us that God always carries us.  He’s done so in the past, he does in the present, and he will do so in the future. 

 

Think of what Scripture says in Psalm 121:7-8, “The LORD will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”  “Coming and going”  -- that’s not just the hard times, that’s all the time, 24/7, 365 days a year.  “Both now and forevermore”!  Your Father is always on duty, always on top of things.  He’s will always give your life meaning, purpose and direction.  You can count on it. 

 

Loved ones, the gospel is a rich blessing for those who believe it.  Through this good news, we not only have hope for the future, we also have a proper perspective on the past and the present.  Through the promises, we can have peace of mind and we can live a life of joy, love, and praise for our Creator and for our Father.  And in the future, someday whenever that glorious day will come, someday we will be there in the presence of God, singing the song of the twenty-four elders:  “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”  AMEN.

 

Prayer:

 

Our Father, almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth,

 

We praise you for your power in creating all things in times past.  We praise you for the meaning and purpose that you’ve given to every single thing.  Father, we’re glad that you created us too, and that our lives have meaning and direction.  Please help us with your Spirit to see that more clearly and to self-consciously live for your praise and glory in everything.  We also pray that you would always provide for us in the present, help us to see your fingerprints in our lives and trust your care for us.  We pray that we would always know that you are near and that you are leading, guiding and caring for us, even in the most mundane details.  And Father, we pray that you would also help us to have an attitude of faith towards the future, that we would meditate on your Word and cling to what is certain.  Help us with your Word and Spirit so that we always trust your promises of who you will be for us and what you will do for us.  We pray, Father, that you would surely bring each one of us into your presence to sing your praises with all the saints.    




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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