May 1, 2016 – manuscript

How will deeper roots allow me to see God’s activity in my life more clearly?

Imagine you fall off the side of an ocean liner and because you don’t know how to swim, you begin to drown.  Someone on the deck spots you flailing in the water and throws you a life preserver.  It lands directly in front of you and just before losing consciousness, you grab hold for dear life.  They pull you up onto the deck and you cough the water out of your lungs.  People gather around, rejoicing that you are safe and waiting expectantly while you regain your senses.  After you finally catch your breath, you open your mouth and say: “Did you see the way I grabbed onto that life preserver?  How tightly I held on to it?  Did you notice the definition in my biceps and the dexterity of my wrists?  I was all over that thing!”

Needless to say, that would be probably be a borderline insane response.  To draw attention to the way you cooperated with the rescue effort minimizes the whole point of what just happened, which is that you were saved.  A much more likely chain of events is that you would immediately seek out the person who threw the life preserver and you would thank them.  Not just superficially, either.  You would embrace them.  You would ask their name.  You would invite them to dinner.  You would offer gifts of appreciate.  You might even trade cabins with them.

Gratitude is a natural response to being rescued. Gratitude is a natural response to salvation.  It does not require manipulation or encouragement.  To the extent that the individual understands what has happened, gratitude will flow naturally and abundantly from his or her heart. The precise form it takes will be different every time, but such is the nature of gratitude.[1]

This week, we are looking at how deeper roots will allow us to see God’s activity in our lives more clearly.  In some cases, it’s about the level of gratitude we have toward God.  We talked about praising God and giving thanks in week 3.  Other times, it is simply acknowledging the sovereignty of God that reigns in our lives.  Write this phrase down; GOD IS SOVEREIGN.  God does not need our permission to reign supreme.  He does.  When Moses appeared before the burning bush in Exodus 3 and asked who was speaking to him, God’s response was I AM THAT I AM.  When John, on the island of Patmos, received the revelation, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”.[2]

Just as the sovereignty of God was active throughout the Bible, the same sovereignty is very active in 2016.  We’re going to look at two Psalms this morning that show how active God is in our lives.

Psalm 103:1-10 reads, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed…The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He will not always chide (agitate), nor will he keep his anger forever.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.[3]

He forgives our iniquity

Psalm 103 speaks of several benefits for recognizing God’s sovereignty in our lives.  The first benefit is that he forgives all of our iniquity.  We’ve already learned that iniquity is our admission of guilt.  It is wickedness.  It is sin.  He forgives all of it.  How much of our iniquity can be forgiven?  That’s right.  All of it.

He heals our diseases

The second benefit is that he heals all of our diseases.  This can be translated as a sickness[4], but it could also be translated as something that causes a weakness in our lives.  John MacArthur said these words about Psalm 103:3. “This is not a promise, but a testimony which should be understood in the light of Deuteronomy 32:39”.[5]  Let’s turn to Deuteronomy, “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.”[6]  Sometimes people aren’t healed physically.  Sometimes people aren’t healed emotionally. The activity of healing in our lives and in our family’s lives cannot happen outside of God’s hand.  The medicine worked; the surgery was effective, the rehab did its job because of God’s activity in our lives.  You may have had the best medical team money can buy, but that medical team didn’t provide your remedy.  God provided it.  Sometimes people carry diseases and weaknesses for years without remedy.  We don’t know why God chooses to heal some and not heal others, yet I don’t want to minimize the sovereignty of God.  I want to suggest to you that if not healing you would grow deeper spiritual roots in your life, God might consider not healing your disease or weakness.

He redeems us from the pit

The third benefit is that he redeems us from the pit.  This word pit means the grave.[7]  God redeems from spiritual death.  Hebrews 9:27 tells us “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”.[8]  Revelation 21:8 tells us “the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, the murderers, the sexually immoral, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars will have their portion in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”[9]  When we grow deeper roots and we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we gain life.  When we put our trust in Jesus Christ and surrender our lives to him, we are redeemed from the second death and gain God’s activity in our lives.

He crowns us with love and mercy

The fourth benefit is that he crowns us with steadfast love and mercy.  To understand this crowning, let’s read Psalm 5:12.  It reads, “For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.”[10]  God’s activity in our lives covers us with love and mercy that is loyal and never runs dry.

He satisfies us with good

The fifth benefit is that he satisfies us with good.  I want to say one thing about this benefit.  God always has your best interest in mind.  God is your biggest cheerleader.  Sin has its natural consequences in our lives.  Please do not confuse those consequences with God being “out to get you”.  We will see the evidence of this in the next few benefits.

He works on our behalf

The sixth benefit is that he works toward righteousness on our behalf.  We’re studying the book of James because holiness matters.  None of us have the ability to be holy on our own.  We need the activity of God in our lives.  We need him to push us toward righteousness.  We are incapable of holiness on our own.

The seventh, eighth and nine flow together as one package.  Each of us are forever grateful for these benefits of God’s sovereignty in our lives.   Verses 8-10 read, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”

There may be people sitting in this room that have a larger view of God as judge than God as daddy.  There are Christians that believe if they don’t do everything they’re supposed to do, God will write them off.  There are Christians that have grown up so afraid of doing the wrong thing, they didn’t engage with any of the right things.  There are Christians who are still waiting to somehow earn God’s approval.  These verses show extremely important benefits to God’s activity in our lives.  God’s anger is slow.  God’s love is extremely loyal.  God will refine you instead of agitate you.  When you disappoint God, he will not hold anger against you.  That would be a violation of Ephesians 4:26-32.  God does not repay us according to what we deserve.  God repays us according to the blood of Jesus that has washed us clean.  We are not bound by our sin and guilt.  We are set free by the blood of Jesus!

Let me ask a few questions for us to consider today.  First, as far as you know, are you experiencing the fullness of God’s activity in your life?  The answer is a clear yes or no.  If you hesitate, you might be holding back in one area.  Second, does your view of God lean more toward judge or daddy?  Finally, are you sure that you’re sure that you have trusted Jesus and surrendered your life to Him?

 

[1] http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2015/october/4101215.html

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Rev 1:8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 103:1–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] https://ref.ly/logos4/Guide;t=Bible_Word_Study;lemma=lbs$2Fhe$2F$D7$AA$D6$B7$D6$BC$D7$97$D6$B2$D7$9C$D6$BB$D7$90$D6$B4$D7$99$D7$9D

[5] The MacArthur Bible Commentary.  Page 665.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Dt 32:39). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Heb 9:27). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Rev 21:8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 5:12). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.