God and You

At the end of the day Christianity boils down to you and God. It’s you and God. And together it’s us and God. He is mine. He is ours. We are his. It’s fundamentally personal.

It’s Gretna Days here this weekend, and so I want to stat with a quick word of thanks to Neil and the gang for putting together our first float ever – and since the theme was rock and Roll they strolled down the road playing rock and roll classics – not your ordinary church float. So thanks to Becca and Eric and Ben and Neil for rocking out the on the church float yesterday. As a father, I know that nothing warms the cockles of a fathers heart like watching your daughter rock out to ACDC in the church parade float.

Some might wonder why they weren’t playing worship songs – well honestly, it wasn’t a worship service, it was a parade, and we decided to add entertainment to the parade – and so it was low on preaching at people and high on getting people to enjoy the parade. And so I’m thankful for those who pulled it off. We love this town, and we are thankful for a chance to contribute to a fun environment in the parade. So the goal of the float was to entertain, not preach.

If you want preaching, you come to church. Right? Nothing entertaining going on here. I’m okay with that. The goal here though is not so much entertainment – it’s supposed to be about engagement. Helping us to engage with the bible – the only book that you read that reads you back.

I’d like to start this weeks sermon with a little story. It was about the time that I had just start ministry – I was a 22 year old assistant pastor of a church. As much as I loved my job there was one drawback – It didn’t pay very well.

And one time Jody and I were just married and we received a bill in the mail for something that I tell you I don’t remember what the bill was for but I remember the amount – $75. And that was $75 we didn’t have. And so Jody and I went to prayer and asked God – are you able to take care of this bill for us? We were unable to pay for even a $75 emergency.

Well the next day the phone rang and Margaret Roberts was on the line and she was the funeral director in town and she said, “Phil, we’ve had a gentleman pass away and the family would like a pastor to officiate the funeral -and I called every single other pastor in town and none of them are available – so in desperation I am calling you. You are my last resort.”

Thanks for the confidence booster, Margaret! Well, I don’t know – I’ve never done a funeral before Margaret… And then she said, “It pays $75.” Well that had to be God right? So I learned a valuable lesson that day. God is able to provide.

As a matter of fact – I learned God would kill a guy just to get me that $75. No, I’m kidding – the guy was like 95 – if anything God kept the alive longer than he should have been just to teach me a valuable lesson.

And you know that was 25 years ago and I do remember – but I often forget. And I often find myself wondering about things – not just financially – but in other areas of my life – Lord are going to be able to provide what I need right now?

Are you Lord going to provide the courage that I need to do the right thing that I know will cost me? Are you going to provide the wisdom I need as I face difficult decisions in my life? Are you going to provide for my health needs? Can I trust that you have my back?

I know I can’t be alone, right? I bet there are times when you wonder if God is going to provide for you. Is God going to be able to provide for these bills that are piling up?

Is God going to be able to provide what I need to be able to make it through this season of pain and strife? Will you provide for me what I need in order to be the dad or mom I want to be? The spouse I need to be?

I’m not alone, I’m sure.

When we think about it – isn’t this the issue closest to the center of the very heartbeat of faith itself. Does God have my back? Is there is a God out there who cares enough about me to meet my needs? Or am I left to fend for myself, marooned in this kind of world?

It doesn’t help that God is invisible to us. We don’t have the chance to have a cup of coffee with him to talk these things out, to hear his plans, right, it requires faith. It requires we trust him.

But this morning I would simply say that even though we don’t physically sit down with God, we certainly can hear from him – and when we read the Bible – perhaps over a cup of coffee in the morning – we are reading his promises to us.

And this morning we are going to read God’s answer to the question – does God have our back? Will He provide for us? Or are we on our own?

And it comes to us in the form of a promise found in Philippians chapter 4. This morning we are at the end of a journey we began through the book of Philippians some 17 weeks ago. Can you believe that? That is a very long series for us here at Journey. But this book – this short little letter that an early leader in the church named Paul wrote to a group of believers living in the first century city of Philippi – is absolutely double-stuffed full of encouraging words.

And as Paul wraps up his letter he is going to throw down one of the greatest single promises we will ever read in scripture. It’s life altering. It’s soul calming. It’s joy inducing.

It’s the kind of promise that we can take to the bank. And it might be the promise you need to hear today.

Phil 4:19 My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

This verse is the promise from heaven to you today. God has your back. God is ridiculously, fabulously wealthy in every sense of the word. He lacks nothing, he lavishly loves those who trust him, and therefore we lack nothing.

Notice how Paul chooses to phrase this powerful promise. “My God” he writes. Not A God. Not Some God. Not even almighty God – Paul brings God right down next to us – near us.

My God.

I remember when I was a young teen, before I started going to church I had a concept of God. And my thought was that he was up there somewhere. Very far away.

But I had this idea that he was keeping a careful eye on me looking for infractions.

So in my thinking He was like Santa only not as kind. And fought this internal battle where I wanted to be loved by God but also couldn’t imagine that and so chose instead to hope that I could go unnoticed by him. Fly under His radar – stay out of his way.

But then I started to attend this church in town with my mom and it was in that church that I heard words that forever changed my life. I heard that if I were the only person on earth who ever believed in Jesus, Jesus still would have come to die for me.

Those words changed me. That meant God loved me with a love I had never imagined possible. God knew everything about me – but it wasn’t disappointment he felt but Love!

He made a way for me to be able to be embraced in love by Him. I heard that Jesus knew me – thought of me on that cross – willingly died so I might have the chance to walk every day of my life with God – as Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the garden.

Jesus died for me to remove my sin and give me a chance to have a fresh start with Him.

That night I knelt next to my bed and looked out of my window at the Tappan Zee Bridge and I prayed – I said, Jesus I trust you with my life. Teach me how to be a follower of yours.”

That night, I became his. And he became – My God.

The roots of this beautiful promise in Philippians dig deep into the reality that God desires to be my friend. And that he will walk with me. And lead me and guide me, and yes, he will provide for me- because I am his and He is mine.

One of the reasons we don’t like religion at Journey is because religion pushes God away from people. Religion creates some kind of performance based acceptance. It places human beings in competition with one another in an effort to get God’s attention.

You read the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – the books we call the gospels – the books that detail the life and times of Jesus – and you see Jesus is intensely personal.

He touches people with leprosy. He welcomes children. He stops a procession to care for the sick. He defends people who professional religionists are ready to stone. He is deeply relational – especially to the spiritually bankrupt.

At the end of the day Christianity boils down to you and God. It’s you and God. It’s you and God. And together it’s us and God. He is mine. He is ours. We are his. It’s fundamentally personal. As Paul knows.

My God will meet all your needs…

Secondly – let’s take a look at the word “Will”. Anyone have a strong willed child at home? You know what that word means, right? Your kid wants to do what they want to do.

Well God wants to provide for you and he Will do it. He is going to act on your behalf. There is no sense of – If God feels like it. If he is up to it. If he remembers. God doesn’t have strings tied to his fingers to remind him to care for you.

Jesus doesn’t write down reminders on his hands to remember to care for you. Pick up milk and remember to care for John.

Know why? Because he already HAS reminders on his hands. The scars from where they pounded the nails through his hands. Know why they are there? Because of his tremendous love for you.

If God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son that whosoever believes in Him might have eternal life – if Jesus willingly bore the scars and wounds for a friend, then he will remember you in your time of need.

Rejoice! Rejoice! God is big enough. Beautiful enough, strong enough, lovely enough, perfect enough, caring enough – My God will be there and what will he do?

He will meet your needs. He will meet all your needs.

Can we just agree that God is able to meet all our needs? When Jody and I got engaged I had a verse inscribed inside the ring – Ephesians 3:20.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Same guy who write the letter to the Philippians also writes a letter to the church in Ephesus. Same message – same encouragement – God is able – to do – more – no immeasurably more than we think – no immeasurably more than we can even imagine ourselves asking.

My God will meet all your needs.

Three quick observations.

First – Probably not a bad time to point out the importance of discerning a want from a need. Not always easy – but it’s important. God is not our genie in a bottle that delivers to us our wishes.

This verse is not a magical incantation – we don’t strong-arm God into giving us stuff with this verse.

Although some would wish to try. Some “churches” will even preach that ridiculous message that some call a prosperity gospel – name it and claim it. This idea that God wants all of his children to be rich. And the only people who are getting rich in those churches are the pastors who are fleecing their sheep.

God promises to meet our needs. And sometimes it takes time, or experience – to come to terms with the idea that God could say no to something we really, really want.

It takes maturity to be able to receive a NO from our heavenly father without wigging out – it’s actually an important milestone in our transformation. It’s difficult for us to hear NO – especially when we are asking for something we feel is noble and unselfish. We don’t always understand – but it’s important to remember which one of us, between me and God – is all knowing and all wise.

Third, it takes even more maturity to be able to receive from God that sometimes we need something we don’t want. Sometimes God allows us to endure seasons, sicknesses, circumstances – sometimes in God’s wisdom and love, he might see that we need to starve a bit. That there might be something inside of us that can only be dealt with by enduring a season we never desired.

But Who is it leading us into shadow of the valley of death. Our Good Shepherd. And Who will be there beside us, comforting us, protecting us? God himself. He will never leave our side.

My God will meet all my needs. And yours. We can trust him.

This idea of trusting God to deliver – to meet our needs – can I share with you a story from the Old Testament about a time when God provided for a man named Abraham?

Way back in Genesis – God appears to a man named Abraham and promises that he will build a great nation through his son. Abraham and his wife Sarah were very old, but God did indeed deliver and his wife gave birth to their only son named Isaac.

You can only imagine how dearly love Abraham was by his mom and Dad.

One day God appeared to Abraham and gave him a startling mission. Abraham, God said, I want you to take your son – your only son – and bring him to the top of Mount Moriah and on top of the mountain I want you to sacrifice your son to me as an offering.

Abraham, the bible says, dutifully brought his son with him and as they walked to the top of the mountain Isaac asked his dad, where is the lamb that we will sacrifice? And Abraham said only, my God will provide the lamb.

The story goes that Abraham laid his son down. And brought the knife back to sacrifice his son. See Abraham figured that God would raise him from the dead. But as he brought the knife back an angel stopped him.

Genesis 22:13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”).

This name – the provider – it stuck with God. One of the very first names of God was Jehovah Jireh – the Lord is my provider.

Literally, in the Hebrew it means “the Lord will see to it”. Two thousand years after Isaac, another son was born. God’s only son. His name was Jesus. And Jesus willingly laid down his life on a cross – so that the sins of all who would believe in him might have a fresh start. A new beginning. We might be forgiven and free to enter into a new kind of kingdom – one ruled by a loving and able King – God himself.

Why did Jesus come? Because we needed a savior and the Lord saw to it. Jehovah Jireh. The Lord provided. He saw to it.

In a moment I will end and the band will come up and we will invite you to participate in communion. Two thousand years after Jesus saw to it – after God provided for our need for a savior – we participate in a ceremony that symbolizes the loving faithfulness of God.

The cracker represents the body of Christ given for us. The juice represents the blood of Jesus spilled out for the forgiveness of our sins.

And as we dip the cracker into the juice we remember that the Lord saw to it. And we declare that God – My God will meet all my needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Will you declare that as you celebrate communion today.

Hey, singe mom struggling to raise your kids and pay the bills and keep it together – will you declare through communion today – My God will meet all my needs – yes he will.

What about you who lost sleep last night because of that nagging worry, that concern that is gnawing at you?
What about you – the one taking the new job, or moving into a new school, will you declare as you take communion – as Abraham did on Mount Moriah – The Lord will provide?
How about you who are looking at a stack of bills that you feel will suffocate you – will you by taking communion today declare that Jehovah Jireh – he is my provider and he will see to it?

How about you with that chronic health issue? You with that terminal health issue? Will you declare that if God loved you enough to die for you he will certainly love you enough to provide for what you need?

My God is able to deliver what I need. If God is for us, whom shall be against us? If God is for us, whom shall I fear? Nothing – nothing -nothing – My God – he will provide.

Post a comment