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Sunday, 18 June 2017

'GOD IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS'

Rev. Brent Russett
By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa:
http://www.sunnysidechurchottawa.com/   

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PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, June 18th, 2017:
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Broadcast Notes:
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God Is Who He Says He Is

Good morning and Welcome to good news in the morning. I am so glad that you have tuned into the program today. My name is Brent Russett. I am the Senior Pastor at Sunnyside Wesleyan Church here in Ottawa. I have been pastoring there for 27 years. One of the things I love to do is show how God’s word that was written a long time ago, connects with our world right now.


            I want to thank Clifford and Alice Miller for sponsoring today’s program. Thank you for helping us share God’s word with people. May you know God’s blessing.


            I know that some of you who are listening have been followers of Jesus for a long time, and I know that others of you think of yourself as spiritual, but you are not really sure of this Christian thing, and I know others of you just curious about how people of faith think. I trust that wherever you are on yours spiritual journey, that you will find this program interesting and informative, and I believe that for those of you desire it, God can use a program like this to take you another step closer to Him.
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            This morning I want you to know one big truth. God is who he says he is.

            Before I get to how this affects how we live, let me just say it is important that you understand this, to live well in our culture. Now I realize, that when we say “God is who he says he is.” We have to answer the question of about the where do we find the words of God? Where does he tell us who he is?

            We as Christians trust the scriptures, the bible. We believe that God by the Power of his Holy Spirit, inspired people to write down what he wanted to communicate about himself. The bible is full of history and poetry, and letters to churches, and instructions to individuals – but in the middle of all that God shows who he is.

            I know some of you have some real questions about whether or not the bible is reliable. I have been there. I have come to the conclusion that it is. If you are interested in investigating that more I would refer you to a website called Dig and Delve. It has video’s of a conference that was held last year about the reliability of the Bible.  -  Go to their website:   Diganddelve.ca I think it will help you with some of your questions about the reliability of the Bible.

            This morning we are looking at God is who he says he is.  It is important that you know where to find what God has said about himself. You find it in the Bible.
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            I want to start off by talking about some of the mistakes we make when we are thinking about who God is.

One of the great theological discussions of 2016 was “Is the Muslim God and Christian God, the same God?” If you trying to figure it out philosophically, then you may come up with one answer. If you look at what God says about himself in Scripture you will come up with another answers.

            Philosophically, we can says, both God were seen in the Old Testament.. The Muslims have one invisible, all powerful, all seeing God. The Christians have one invisible, all powerful, all seeing God. Therefore they must be the same God.

            But that is kind of like taking a sparse wooden kitchen chair, and a plump cushioned living room chair, and saying they are the same thing – they are both chairs – but are they the same? Well yes and no.

            Our scriptures says, In the beginning was the word and word was with God and the word was God.  Jesus was and is God.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT)
 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command…

            If you told a Muslim that God had a son – well Mohamad spoke about that and used stronger words than heresy. We as Christians believe in the triune God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. We get there because we believe that God has revealed himself through his only begotten son, Jesus Christ and we believe that the New Testament is an expression of God’s revelations to us.

            Is the Muslim God and the Christian God the same God. Philosophically you get one answers. But if you believe that God was revealing himself in the person of Jesus Christ, and through the bible, then you come up with another answer.

            I want you to know that God is who he says he is, not who philosophy says he is. God is who is says he is in his word, the Bible.
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            Another common mistake that is made in our culture when it comes to who God is, == is that instead of saying “God is who he says he is” People say “God is who I say he is.” There is a big difference between God is who he says he is – and God is who I say he is.  

            What often happens in our culture is that we end up taking pieces of spirituality from here, and a little from there, and then we figure out what our values are, and then we promote them and attribute them to God.

            So, in our culture God is loving and tolerant, and non judgemental. God might judge the terrorist and the drug dealers because of the destruction they bring, but God would never judge me, because I am doing what is right in my own eyes.

            The god of my own making is someone who is always there to help, but never demands anything from us. He is always at my disposal even though I pay him little attention. That is often then God we get when we buy into the idea that “God is who I say He is.”

            Some people think about God in just the opposite way. They see God as someone sitting up in heaven looking to strike us with lightening or hit us over the head with his spiritual baseball bat when we step out of line.

            But I got to tell you, that kind of God is unhelpful. You see --What you believe about God does not change who God is, but it can sure can mess up who you are.

            A.W. Tozer, one of the greatest ministers and devotional writers of the last century said this, “What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you”.

            You are defined by your perception of God. I say that because your relationship with God will define you. It will cause you to walk in spiritual awareness or spiritual darkness. It will cause you to become responsive to the will and voice of God or to do things your own way. It will cause you to grow into the image of a God who is good and gracious and loving and holy, or it will cause you to be the center of your own life. Your relationship with God will define who you are.

            Your perception of God will either deepen your relationship with God, or it will cause your relationship to remain shallow. You perception of God will push you away from him or draw you to him.

            Yanit Ross says:
“Our faulty views of God can cause us to fear intimacy with Him, and inspire us to labor for Him out of duty or fear rather than out of love. If we see God as a loving Father, we will draw near to Him; if He seems to be a harsh judge, we will withdraw from Him. If we do not believe God cares about us, we will be overly focused on caring for ourselves. If we feel insignificant or ignored by Him, we will weary ourselves seeking significance from people.

Distorted images of God affect how we worship Him. We may question if He is worthy of our worship. Our witness will also be affected; the more we admire and love Him, the more we want others to know Him like we do. We can rise no higher in our spiritual life than our view or concept of God.”
           

            Just as in a family the parents give a child self-worth, value, security and identity, the same is true in the spiritual realm. Our heavenly Father gives us value, worth, security and identity, as his children if we really know who he is. If our image of him is distorted, then our self-worth, value, security and identity will be distorted as well.

            It is important that you know that God is who he says he is, and that you get to know what God has to say about himself.

            I want to expand your view of God so I am going to play you a short cIip of Dr Jim Altizer doing his best to describe the indescribable.  Dr. Altizer is a professor of worship at Azusa Pacific University. In this audio clip he describes some of the character of God.


Audio Clip – Jim Altizer – the Attributes of God. 3:15


            Listen  to the poetry of the prophet Isaiah as he attempts to describes the God who is.

Isaiah 40:12–14 (NLT)
The Lord Has No Equal
12 Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
13 Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord?*
Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
14 Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?
Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
or show him the path of justice?

            Listen as God describes part of who he is.
Isaiah 40:25–31 (NLT)
25 “To whom will you compare me?
Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.
26 Look up into the heavens.
Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

            We tend to focus on those last, beautiful, poetic verses
Isaiah 40:31 (NRSV)
31          but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

            But the promise of God stem from the character of God. It stems from who God is. It stems from who God says he is. The question is always, will you trust that God is who he says he is.

            This is a mark of spiritual maturity. A deep settled faith in the Character of God. Will you trust that God is who he says he is. And sometimes that is not easy.

            Will you trust that God is good, even when life isn’t good. Will you trust in the love of God, even when you are feeling self condemnation. Will you trust in the grace of God even when you feel like you don’t deserve anything. Will you trust in the justice of God even when you are being unjustly treated.

            Will you trust in strength of God when you are feeling weak. Will you trust in the provision of God, when you don’t understand where that provision is going to come from. Will you trust in the wisdom of God even when it goes against your wisdom or our culture’s wisdom, or your friend’s wisdom.

            Will you trust in the goodness of God even when your prayers are not answered. Will you trust in the love of God even when life doesn’t turn out the way you want.

            These things are not always easy to do, but they are the marks of a spiritually mature person. They are the marks of one who has learned that God is who he says he is, even when life disappoints.

            Here is what these kind of people have discovered. They can’t see life from God’s eternal perspective. They can’t know what God knows about the future. They can’t understand all that God knows, but they have come to trust the character of God. They have come to trust God when he says he is good – because they have seen enough to know that it is true, even when life is unfair. They have experienced the kindness and faithfulness of God – and so they can trust God on the worst days of the worst parts of their lives.

            They know that God is who he said he is. They don’t try to make him into something else. They don’t try to distort him. They trust him. And as they do, they find that he gives them a sense of his presence that allows them to handle what life brings their way. They have a sense of personal security, even though all of life seems really insecure. They have come to know that he is who he says he is – and they trust him for it.

            The question is are you willing to take God at his word and believe that God is who he says he is? If you are then the obvious follow up question is how do you embrace the character of God. Before we go there we are going to listen to Steve Green sing about the character of God in the song

Immortal, Invisible. – Steve Green 3:44

            How do you embrace the character of God. 

First,
            You have to know the character of God. To do that you are going to have to go where God talks about himself – the bible.
            When you are reading the Bible, look for what God says about himself. Or look at what his actions reveal about himself. The bible is about God’s revelation of himself.

            Sometimes it is very explicit
Exodus 34:6–7 (NIV)
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Sometimes it is very subtle. Some of you will know the story that Jesus told of the prodigal son. Think about what tells us about who God is.

As you are reading a story like that,  ask the question, what does this teach me about God. If you are going to trust what God says about himself then you need to know what God says. If you are going to trust in the character of God, then you need to know what God has to say about who he is. Get to know what God has to say about himself. Read the bible –

If you have never read the bible before then I would encourage you to do that. If you don’t have one at home, you can go to Biblegateway.com and read it there.

The bible is made up of 66 books with 40 different authors. So I would encourage you not to start at the beginning like you would with most books,, but start in the book of John. Look it up in the index. It is the story of Jesus – when you are reading the book of John, ask yourself, what does this tell me about who God is.

When you are reading scripture, take note of the names of God. The name of God reveal his character. They are worthy studying.

            So you are reading the bible, and you see what God says about who he is – The question is what do you do with that.  

Respond to God’s revelations of Himself

            I would suggest that there are a few good  responses to seeing who God is The first response is prayer and worship. Thank God for who he is. Prayers like, “Lord you have shown me in your word that you are faithful – thankyou for your faithfulness. Lord thankyou that you are trust worthy. Lord help me to trust in your faithfulness.

Praying back to God his character is also a good thing to do.

God I thank you that you are good. You have revealed yourself to be good. All that you are and all that you made is good. God help me to trust in your goodness, even when life is tough, and the circumstances are not good. Help me to trust in your goodness even when I go through difficult times. Thank you that you are good. Thank you that my current circumstances do not dictate who you are.

Praying back to God his character is something that his both helpful and it can be profound.

The other thing that his helpful to do when you see who God has revealed himself to be is to “God you have shown me who you are, what does that mean for me as I walk in relationship with you?”

 Prayer and or worship, and then asking the question, “God you have shown me who you are, what does that mean for me as I walk in relationship with you.”

            In some ways you were created to reflect God. You were not created to reflect his Omnipotence, but you were created to reflect his love. When you see who God is, you ask yourself, what does this mean for me as I walk in relationship with you?”

            For some of his characteristics it will mean that you look at how to reflect them in your own life. In other ways, like the fact that God is everywhere present, means that the situations that you find yourself in, in this coming week, God is already there.

            God is who he says he is. Trusting the character of God is fundamental for spiritual maturity. It is fundamental for your life and growth and walk as a Christian. Today I want to encourage you to push into God.

Let’s pray;

Lord Jesus, thank you so much for who you are.
God, thank you, for revealing yourself in your Word.
Lord, we know, and have come to see, that you are who you say you are.
Help us, Lord, to sort that out with who I say you are, or what philosophy says you are.
Lord, help us to take your revelation of yourself, in your Word and help us to live it out well, as we trust in your character.
We pray this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.


            I want to thank Clifford and Alice Miller again for sponsoring todays program. Thank you for enabling me to share about who God is.

            My name is Brent Russett and it has been a privilege to spend some time in God’s word with you and bring you some good news in the morning.

By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa:
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PODCAST LINK to the CFRA broadcast:

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