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Author Topic: From Wonder to Witness  (Read 1869 times)
Shylynne
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« on: April 25, 2004, 01:38:19 PM »

From Wonder to Witness
(This sermon is powerful - be inspired!)  

Our root need in witness is to know God in such a way that God's exuberance for being God rubs off on us? And then on the world.


Isaiah 43:10-13

"You are my witnesses," says the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and beside me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses," says the Lord. "I am God, and also henceforth I am He; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work and who can hinder it?"


This text is meant to nurture that experience and to turn it into world-wide witness. Let me take those two points as my outline: first the text means to nurture our sense of awe and amazement that God is God; second the text means to turn that wonder into witness. How does it nurture our wonder and amazement at the sheer "godness" of God? It does so by telling us what it means to be God.

The last two lines of verse 13 are really an exposition of what it means to be God. God cries out, "I am God! Even from eternity I am He!" (Here is what I mean:) "there is none who can deliver out of my hand; I act and who can reverse it?" God lifts up the fact that He is God: "I am God!" And then He fills it with its most basic meaning: "I act, and no one can reverse it!" When I will do a thing nothing can stop me.

When He says, "I am God!" He declares His deity. When He says, "I act and none can reverse it!" He declares His glorious sovereignty. To be God is to be sovereign; God nurtures our wonder at His deity by telling us that it means sovereignty. Indispensible to the holy praise of God is a kind of stunned sight of His absolute sovereignty: "I act and no one can reverse it." He means for our jaws to drop. I saw this again in Isaiah 45:5-7 where God predicts the coming of Cyrus centuries later. He says,

I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, Cyrus, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.

God is at pains to declare that He is God and He alone. And to drive that home He speaks of His sovereignty. He is willing to go so far as to claim final responsibility for all the calamities of the world. "I am the One who forms light and creates darkness, who causes prosperity and creates calamity; I am the Lord who does ALL these things." Why does God take final responsibility for all the disasters of the world? Because He wants to fill us with trembling awe that He is God. And that means He is sovereign. He acts and none can reverse it!

And then I saw it again in Isaiah 46:9-10,

Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, "My counsel will stand and I will accomplish all my purpose."

And so here they come together again. "I am God!" And: "I will accomplish all my purpose!" Deity. And: Sovereignty. I act and none can hinder! God nurtures our wonder at His deity by directing our attention to His sovereignty. Why? Because without sovereignty there is no true God. The God of Isaiah is passionate to define Himself in terms of sovereignty: "I act and none can reverse it." "My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose." "I make well and create woe, I am the Lord who does all these things."

So the first point of our text is that God is God, which means that God is soverign - He works and none can hinder. He is thrilled with His own deity and sovereignty and so should we be.

But now we must ask, does God nurture this wonder in us as a merely private experience? Have we reached the apex of our joy and the climax of our divine call where we have an overwhelming, private experience of God's glory and power? NO! It is neither the apex of our joy nor the climax of our call because God ignites the fire of our worship to make us shine in the world. This is the second point of our text, God means to make a witness out of our wonder. He nurtures our wonder by showing us that He is a sovereign God; and He makes our wonder into a witness for all the world.

Verse 10 is crucial here, "You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He." Notice three things from this verse:

First, if you know God and believe God and understand that He is God, it is because He chose you to know and chose you to believe and chose you to understand that He is God. In other words, this text teaches not only that we should stand in awe of the sovereignty of God, but also that we stand in awe by the sovereignty of God. God chose us to know, God chose us to believe, God chose us to understand that He is God.

But that's only half the sentence. Why does God light the fire of our knowing Him and believing Him and our sense of awe that He is God? Answer: He lights this fire to make us shine. That's the second thing to notice in verse 10: He means to turn our wonder into witness. "'You are my witnesses," says the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen'..." Chosen not only to know; chosen not only to believe; chosen not only to grasp the glory that God is God; but chosen as servant-witnesses: "You are my witnesses and my servant whom I have chosen." No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel. And God doesn't stun people with His deity and sovereignty for merely private pleasures, God ignites our wonder to make us a witness. That's the second thing to see in verse 10.

And the third thing to see is that the content of our witness is God. It is the unmistakable emphasis of this text: God lights the flame of worship so we will bear witness to God's exuberance for God. We can be more specific. God lights the fire of wonder so that we witness to God's sheer existence: (v.13) "I am God and also henceforth I am he." We witness to God's sovereignty: (v.13) "I work and who can hinder it?" We witness to the truth that God alone is God: (v.10) "Before me no God was formed nor shall there be any after me." We witness to the truth that God is eternal: (v. 13) "I am God, henceforth I am He. We witness to the truth that God has spoken: (v. 12) "I declared and proclaimed." We witness to the truth that this great uncomparable God saves: (v. 11) "I, I am the Lord and beside me there is no Savior; I declared and saved.

Two points: 1) this text comes to nurture the wonder that God is God: God magnifies His deity by directing us to His sovereignty. 2) the text means to turn that wonder into witness. The flame of worship is a witness to God's exuberance for God.

Now what does this mean for the BGC? Pastors, we must labor to know God. And we must help our people know God. Do we know God? Do we understand that He is God? The link in verse 10 between understanding that God is God and being His witnesses is unmistakable. Do our people understand that God is God - that He works and none can hinder it? Is not this text telling us that our root need in witness is to know God in such a way that God's exuberance for being God rubs off on us? And then on the world.

I think our prayer should be

O God, grant us to know you in such a way that the fire of our wonder becomes an unquenchable flame of witness to the world.

http://www.desiringgod.org/library/sermons/89/062889.html
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“Christianity isn't all that complicated … it's Jesus.”   — Joni Eareckson Tada

There is no force on earth as powerful as one human soul set ablaze with the Spirit of God -  Shylynne
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2004, 04:24:46 PM »

Did you write this?Huh?
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Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you would include not finding your neighbor's biggest fault and then harping on it as if it were your mission.
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2004, 04:33:44 PM »

Thank you, Shylynne, for another testimony of God's terrible greatness and love! I needed that reminder today!
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"Man dreams and desires; God broods, and wills, and quickens."
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2004, 08:16:12 PM »

AMEN Shylynne!

Thanks for sharing this with us. I always enjoy thinking about and singing the old Sunday School song, "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine."

God does not want us to hide our LIGHT we have in and through JESUS.

There is Love In Jesus,
Tom
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Shylynne
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2004, 09:10:55 PM »

Did you know the world's shortest sermon led immediately to the world's greatest revival? The sermon was simply, "In 40 days, you are all going to be wiped out." The revival was every single person in the entire city, more than 120,000 men, women and children, immediately gave their life to God and were saved from total destruction.

Where and when? Nineveh, in about 800 BC, and the preacher was someone who was afraid to take the job and then was angry over the result - Jonah. And God held off the total destruction of Nineveh for more than 100 years after that, therefore ensuring that all those who had been saved would not be destroyed with the city. This, alone, might be called the greatest miracle in the Bible, but the book is filled with more -- the "great fish" episode, the bush that grows in one day and then is eaten completely by a worm the next.

But, for you and me, the real story here could really be how God can and will use us, as unwilling or fearful as we might be, to do His work of redemption here on earth, and the results which can come about when we simply do what He asks.

God simply told Jonah, "Go to Nineveh and tell them that they are going to be destroyed." End of message. But, Jonah ran, and you know the rest of the story. When God finally got Jonah back on the track to Nineveh, the message hadn't changed -- just Jonah's willingness to deliver the message. When the people heard that simple, yet chilling message, they believed it, repented and were saved. Jonah didn't have to do any wonders; he certainly didn't deliver a message of resounding oratory; he didn't give any proofs of the message, or sit in the local meeting hall and teach persuasive classes. He just said what God told him to say -- and God did the rest. And even when Jonah got upset over the results (the people in Nineveh really were enemies of Jonah's people), God used the message in His own way and perfected the results anyway.

And so it can be for us.

When Christ said to go into all the world teaching and baptizing, he didn't say it to an elite group of scholarly ministers, all with Doctorate degrees. When He said to go into Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and the rest of the world, he wasn't directing His comments to people who had long years of ministry service - people who had proven themselves. He was speaking to a handful of men, most of whom had come from rough, hardworking backgrounds, who weren't highly educated and who were even yet doubtful of who this Christ really was. He was entrusting the ministry into the hands of a few unproven men who He was hoping would simply go out and do what He had asked. And when they did just that, the world was turned upside down and shaken to the core and has not been the same since.

Friends, Christ's words were also directed to you and me. The same power He gave to that handful of untrained, fearful -- but willing -- men, He has for us today. And the results can be just the same. You don't "need" a Pastor to lead a friend to the Lord, or even to baptize him. You don't "need" a Bible college degree to go out into the world and start a ministry for Him. You don't "need" all the right words and a beautiful voice and great poise and just the right clothes to lead a revival.

Many of the world's greatest servants of the Lord started as drunks in the gutter, men who hated God, and people who physically had NO attributes of a spiritual leader. But they did have, in the end, the one thing we all must have to really reach out and serve Him -- the willingness to simply step out and do what He says and follow where He leads. That's the only thing you need, friend. Because God says He will be with you in everything you try to do for Him. He will guide and protect, will give the words needed, will lift us up when we make mistakes. HE will do the work -- through His faithful servants, those willing to step out in faith and do as He asks.

Jonah's sermon was only a few words -- but God used it to save more than 120,000. He used the unlearned, untrained Disciples to start a religion -- a relationship with Him -- that will not stop until the end of time. And He will use every poor, tiny effort you and I are able to build up courage enough to give out to do His work and to bring the world to Him.

Joh 12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.


-Jim Magwood
http://www.themastersvoice.net/
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“Christianity isn't all that complicated … it's Jesus.”   — Joni Eareckson Tada

There is no force on earth as powerful as one human soul set ablaze with the Spirit of God -  Shylynne
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2004, 11:34:53 PM »

Quote
Many of the world's greatest servants of the Lord started as drunks in the gutter, men who hated God, and people who physically had NO attributes of a spiritual leader. But they did have, in the end, the one thing we all must have to really reach out and serve Him -- the willingness to simply step out and do what He says and follow where He leads. That's the only thing you need, friend. Because God says He will be with you in everything you try to do for Him. He will guide and protect, will give the words needed, will lift us up when we make mistakes. HE will do the work -- through His faithful servants, those willing to step out in faith and do as He asks.

AMEN Shylynne!

Thanks for sharing another message with us that we all need to heed. When God calls us or drops an opportunity to serve HIM in our path, we all need to STOP thinking that it couldn't be us that HE wants to do something. God doesn't make mistakes, but we do if we fail to obey HIS call.

There is Love In Jesus,
Tom
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