GIANTS EXIST...OR DO THEY
I saw this picture the other day...giants exist...
Pizza 56 m high...so how tall is this person?
It's a trick of the light isn't it... our eyes that see in 3 dimensions, and normally perceive depth are tricked because in the photo there is no way of showing depth and perspective accept by blurring objects in the back or foreground....
I wonder whether sometimes our relationship with God is like that…
Whether sometime we get a sense of false perspective
whether sometimes our view of God is dwarfed by our feelings and experience and that our God is just way too small and sometimes our problem in the perspective of where we stand can seem so much bigger…
Christian when I was 21 – grown up in a Catholic church and attending a Catholic school but no real understanding of what the whole things was on about…
I guess for me it all came to a head when I was taking my final exams... In RE, I got a grade U…upgradeable
I took that to mean that I did not understand Christianity and I didn’t understand God…so after 16 I turned my back
At 21 people entered my life who lived out the truth, and I was converted…
But it’s only looking back on it I realize now that my God was just way too small.
Sure I knew that God had created the universe and me, and you… that type of thing, but I struggled to trust him with the every day things...
I guess it’s that PERSPECTIVE PROBLEM
When I put my problems and stood them against God, my problems dwarfed god
He was in the distance… and my problems looked much bigger…
Now the obvious answer to this problem is one of relationship.
Donna Marie brought this up last week,
the more we are open to relationship with God the more that relationship develops an attitude of trust,
and we come to a realization that our God is bigger....
Relationship is the key to seeing your God as bigger
Relationship is key to shifting the perspective of your problems on to his Will being done
so the question is then how do you increase this relationship with God…
How do you get to know God more…?
The standard answers relate to spending time with God.
Read your Bible…. MORE
While all these things are good and they do help, the reality is that in the world we live in it’s far easier to access these things,
To attend Church regularly
To worship with some great music in the style of your choosing
And to read bibles in many ways with countless different translations
We have more churches in a town like Blenheim than supermarkets
We have christen books shops
And even Christian fashion
And yet still I encounter people everyday whose God is just way too small.
Time, access and Knowledge in themselves don’t seem to deepen the relationship
SMALL GOD< SELF FAITH
It's an important idea to get your head round because if your God is not big enough then you'll start to think everything that happens in your faith is about you...
you'll think worship is about the music you like
sharing the gospel is about you doing all the work. Like a sales man getting the deal
you'll think prayer is about what you need...
Is your God big enough?
Were beginning to look at Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians…
I think it might help us in understanding some ways in which we can increase the size of our God.
How it came into being... THE CHURCH OF THE THESSALONIANS...
A lot of what we don know outside of the letter comes from the book of Acts chapter 17.
When Paul arrived there he immediate went to work in the synagogues gatherings of the Jews, talking to them about Jesus...
We also know that he went to work in the marketplace – probably using his position as a tent maker – or leather worker to share the gospel.
Three weeks later a disturbance occurred – some of the Jews from the synagogue took offence at what Paul was saying and basically drove him out of town…
This left a handful of baby Christians--probably no more than 2 months old in their faith--all alone in the center of a pagan community.
So after Paul settles in the Greek city of Corinth, he writes these two letters to his friends in Thessalonica.
You have got to wonder, what could Paul possibly do in three weeks?
How could Paul possibly develop these people enough to be able to stand on their own two feet and to trust in God…?
Relationships take time don’t they?
Building trust in God is a long term process….
I mean if I could be part of a church and church school for 16 years and come to the end of that time and get a U in my RE exam you have got to wonder what these Thessalonians could possibly know about God…
How could they possibly no the intricacies of the Christian faith and come to that depth of relationship that we all need…
3 weeks is just not enough or is it….
But there was evidence that there faith was not only real, but alive and that in that time and the few months that followed from Paul being among them to writing this letter there faith was growing.
They were bearing fruit...
1 They were an example to other believers –
2 they had turned from idols
3 they were serving God
They certainly don’t have it all together but there perspective on God was causing them to reflect his work in their lives
BACK IN PERSPECTIVE
In this first chapter we can see some objects which should help us put the picture of our God back into focus,
that should help us generate some depth perception, that should help us see that we truly serve an awesome, incredible, wonderful God
In their Christian lives Paul has seen first hand… in the 3 weeks he was with them
The work they do which is a result of their faith
The labor which is a result of their love
And Their steadfastness which comes from the hope they have
They worked on their faith…didn’t just sit back and expect it to happen
Now we know that these guys faced opposition,
I guess one result of that is that we can often just back off completely.
I mean no body wants to be disliked...
But in spite of this they pressed on.
They say faith is like a muscle? It needs to be worked, and some of the best training you can do on your muscles is resistance training…
Having your faith tested will deepen your relationship with God
On top of that, what they face causes them to pull together – they don’t go through their problems alone
But with each other,
They love each other,
I think we all know that loving others is not always that easy.
It’s easy to love those who are like us but people who are different can be scary
the reality is that is loving those who are different we open ourselves up to God more; it grounds us in god’s Love and deepens our relationship.
To top it off they had hope,
In the midst of the situation the good news that Jesus has died, risen from the grave, ascended to be with His father and promised that he would return again for them was giving them hope.
Like walking around in a dense fog and then suddenly being lifted out of it they were able to see a future for them... A future that was secure in God.
The glimpse of the end, gave them a purpose for living in the present,
persecution, trials and problems were temporary
they were chosen…
Chosen by God...
this is one of them realities that we often find it hard to get our heads around.
And far too often we take it as meaning something it does not...
I think most of us have had an experience of being chosen at some stage...
Being picked for the football team...
It's often down to skill, ability, worthiness
you are chosen because you are good...
In God's reality that is not what it means...
Another way we could look at this is that in terms of a relationship,
God has chosen to have a relationship with you...
Whether you choose to return that relationship is your business...many don't
Many just choose a relationship that sees God as a cosmic butler...
They choose to respond to God when they have needs...
Is that really relationship, or using someone?
What it means to be chosen is that God has done 99.99% of the work in building this relationship - but we still need to respond.
He sent his son to die in your place...he didn't have to do this , this was his choice
Now none of us deserve this, In God's eye's if this was the 1st 15 he was picking we wouldn't even deserve to be on the bench.
But God thinks you are worth it...
Not because of any merit of our own, but because He is God, it's pure grace.
God is committed to this relationship, to help it to happen he even send his Spirit, to help and guide us.
Our response is the issue; will we accept the fact God has chosen us to have relationship with him?
It's our perspective of God that is too small, not out God.
the final way that they developed their relationship was through the subtle art of Imitation.
This seems to have been something that Paul saw as being key to helping those Young in the faith....
They didn't have the amount of knowledge and the depth of time in this relationship with God, so Paul calls upon them to imitate me...
He was a role model of what the Christian faith should look like of what relationship with God should look like...
And because of that not only would Paul sought to deepen his relationship with God, so would they...
Even at this tender stage in their faith the Church of Thessalonica was a role model.
A witness, they were being looked at
people were talking of how they were living for Jesus.
We are all role models in the faith to other people...
I think some of us are bad role models... not all the time. But when we loose our rag
maybe we model something that is not Christ like.
When we snub people it doesn't speak of Christ's love.
When we would rather argue and condemn people than show Christ’s love we are being bad role models...
I have to watch this, you have to watch this. That fact that we are role models should cause us to seek to deepen our relationship.
I want to be like Jesus, because people see Jesus in Me.
I want to be more like Jesus because when people look at me that is what I want them to see.
You don't need a degree in theology, a dog collar or a halo to do this; you just need to be open to God's relationship...
He's done the work; we just need to be open to receiving that work
to letting God be seen in us.
To changing our perspective.
If you want to increase your depth perceptions of the majesty of God
Then live out your faith
Love those around you
Live in light of the hope you have
Recognize your chosen ness – God wants relationship with you
Imitate those who have been walking the walk longer than you and be a good role model too others – seek to be Christ like
At the end of the day what will increase the size of God in your life is the depth of your convictions
The Thessalonians were absolutely convinced that there God was a big God able to work miracles in their situation,
To sustain them until he returns or take them up to be with him at death.
Because of the depth of these convictions they were failing to surrender absolutely to him.
If you are mildly convicted you will be mildly surrendered and you God will be too small.
But let me assure you we serve a big God, if you can't see it, then it's your perspective that wrong...